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This course examines narratives of migration to, from, and between the Americas by groups from East, South, and Southeast Asia. We will analyze novels, short fiction, poetry, and films by twentieth-century artists (Joy Kogawa, Theresa Cha, Shani Mootoo, Jhumpa Lahiri, Bienvenido Santos, Wayne Wang) against the historical backdrop of imperialism in Asia and the Americas; periods of exclusion and internment; and social movements that coalesce around intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
Published Native American writing has always incorporated a cross-cultural perspective that mediates among traditions. The novels, short stories, and essays that constitute the Native American contribution to the American literary tradition reveal the literary potential of diverse aesthetic traditions. This course will study representative authors with particular emphasis on contemporary writers. Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Course Group III.
A study of African American literature from the Harlem Renaissance to the present, this course will focus on emerging and diverging traditions of writing by African Americans. We shall also investigate the changing forms and contexts of ‘racial representation’ in the United States. Works may include those by Hurston, Hughes, Wright, Ellison, Morrison, Schuyler, West, Murray, Gates, Parks. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
In this course we’ll take up iconic plays in modern and contemporary American Drama -- Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie and Long Day’s Journey into Night, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons and Death of A Salesman, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, August Wilson’s Fences, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Suzan Lori-Parks’ Topdog/Underdog, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton -- and consider the ways in which they were shaped by historical events even as as they helped to shape (and in some cases reform ) U.S. culture and politics. In the final week, the class will analyze the theatrical design, dramatic structure, and cultural efficacy of a Donald Trump rally. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
Contemporary American fiction introduces the reader to the unexpected. Instead of conventionally structured stories, stereotypical heroes, traditional value systems, and familiar uses of language, the reader finds new and diverse narrative forms. Such writers as Toni Morrison, Thomas Pynchon, Maxine Hong Kingston, Leslie Silko, Norman Mailer, Don DeLillo, and Ralph Ellison, among others, have produced a body of important, innovative fiction expressive of a modern American literary sensibility. The course requires intensive class reading of this fiction and varied critical writing on postmodernism. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
This course explores the most exciting developments in American poetry from 1960 until the present. We will consider a wide array of poetic movements—the Beats, the New York School, the Confessionals, the Black Mountain group, the Black Arts Movement, Language poets, performance and conceptual poetry, rap and spoken word—in order to understand the aesthetic tendencies that inform American poetries being written today. In particular, we will examine key individual poets through close readings of their most exemplary work. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
A survey of modern American and British poetry since the First World War, with particular emphasis on the aesthetics, philosophy and politics of modernism. The course covers such canonical and non-canonical poets as Yeats, Pound, HD, Lawrence, Eliot, Stevens, Frost, Williams, Crane, Moore, Millay, Auden, the Harlem Renaissance. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
Major British plays since the 1890s. The course begins with the comedy of manners as represented by Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward. It then considers innovations in and rebellions against standard theatrical fare: the socialist crusading of Bernard Shaw; the angry young men (John Osborne) and workingclass women (Shelagh Delaney) of the 1950s; the minimalists (Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter) and the university wits (Tom Stoppard); the dark comedians of the modern family (Alan Ayckbourn) and the politically inflected playwrights of the age of Prime Minister Thatcher (Caryl Churchill, Timberlake Wertenbaker, David Hare). The course deals both with the evolution of dramatic forms and the unusually close way in which modern British theatre has served as a mirror for British life from the heyday of the Empire to the present. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
A study of major authors, texts, and literary movements, with an emphasis on literary modernism and its cultural contexts. The course includes works by Conrad, Forster, Joyce, Woolf, West, Lawrence, Rhys, and Beckett, as well as critical essays. We will explore this literature in the context of the art, dance, and film of the period. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
A study of the multiple currents within British fiction in a period characterized by major literary, cultural, and social transitions in Britain, including the emergence of a “post” (-war, -empire, -modern) sensibility. Writers may include Amis, Sillitoe, Greene, Golding, Burgess, Lessing, Wilson, Carter, Swift, Atkinson, MacLaverty, Ishiguro, Barker, Barnes, McKewan, Smith. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
An introduction to the themes and foundational texts of postcolonial literature in English. We will read and discuss novels by writers from former British colonies in Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean, and the postcolonial diaspora, with attention to the particularities of their diverse cultures and colonial histories. Our study of the literary texts will incorporate critical and theoretical essays, oral presentations, and brief background lectures. Authors may include Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, V.S. Naipaul, Merle Hodge, Anita Desai, Bessie Head, Nadine Gordimer, Paule Marshall, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Salman Rushdie, Earl Lovelace, Arundhati Roy. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: NW. Course Group III.
This course introduces digital studies, the scholarly engagement with digital technologies and the cultures that have risen alongside them. It is a commonplace to note that the digital is pervasive in our lives, and it therefore plays at least some role in almost every human activity, from the mundane to the exotic. This course will chart the development of the digital from its growth in the twentieth century to its current hegemony, and will consider its relationship to communication, sociality, identity, media, arts, recreation, politics, the future, and more. Class meetings will focus on scholarly articles and book chapters, supplemented by some film, and by artifacts of digital technology and culture. Students will collectively shape the syllabus, aligning our readings with the interests of the class. Dist: ART. Course Group III & Course Group IV.
These courses are offered periodically with varying content: one or more individual writers, a genre, or an approach to the literature of this historical period not otherwise provided in the English curriculum. Requirements will include papers and, at the discretion of the instructor, examinations. Enrollment is limited to 30. Dist: LIT. WCult: Varies.
The class will examine modern fiction, essays and memoirs that deal with the movement of diasporic people from one homeland to another. Over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, writers have been using dislocation and immigration as a focus to consider such concepts as the national and racial identity; the roles that “place” and community play in notions of selfhood; the psychological costs and benefits of leaving a place of origin; and how one forms a sense of community out of dislocation, especially when they move from being in the racial majority to the racial minority. Books include Crossing the River (Caryl Phillips); A Stranger in the Village (Cheryl J. Fish and Farah Jasmine Griffin, eds.); The Lonely Londoners (Sam Selvon);Mr. Loverman (Bernardine Evaristo); Brother, I’m Dying (Edwidge Danticat); Lucy (Jamaica Kincaid); Jazz (Toni Morrison); and Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie). Dist: INT or LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
An examination of Toni Morrison's major fictional works. We will also read critical responses by and about the author. Required texts include The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, Jazz, Paradise, and Home, as well as critical works. Central issues will include alternative constructions of female community and genealogy, and representations of race, class, nationhood and identity. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
This community-based learning course offers students the unique opportunity to work directly with a local population in crisis, as well as study the effects of poverty, class structures, drug addiction, incarceration, and the issues facing people after treatment and/or imprisonment. For one class each week, students will study and discuss relevant readings in the traditional classroom. For the second class, students will travel to Valley Vista, a substance abuse rehabilitation center in Bradford, Vermont, to participate in a program for women clients. Its goal is the creation and performance of an original production that will facilitate the clients' voices. Dist: ART; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
Joyce famously asserted that should Dublin burn to the ground future planners and architects would be able to rebuild it perfectly through the blueprint of the city described in his novel Ulysses. In this course we will, via the close reading of its literature and its history, create our own distinct blueprint of Dublin, and attempt to write our own narratives of the city. We will study the ways in which literature contributes to a particular imagined cosmopolitan that is not only necessary to the vital life of the city but also to the cultural identity of its people. Some of the writers to be considered include: James Joyce, Sean O’Casey, Samuel Beckett, Flann O’Brien, Aiden Higgins, Brendan Behan, Patrick Kavanagh, Emma Donaghue, Claire Keegan, Roddy Doyle, Colm Tóibín, John Banville, Eavan Boland, Anne Hartigan, Kevin Barry, Bernard McLaverty, Patrick McGabe, Neil Jordan, Edna O’Brien, Sebastian Barry, Colum McCann, Eílís Ní Dhuibne and Anne Enright. Students planning to enroll in the Dublin FSP are especially encouraged to take this course; all students are welcome. DIST: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
In this course, we will explore women’s writing and different technologies that transmit those texts from the long nineteenth-century to the present. Our goal is to think about how these works—their genres, forms, circulation, and content—shape impressions of and access to women’s writing. Our analyses will traverse a range of works and media from nineteenth-century poetry and serial novels to contemporary electronic editions. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
In this course, we will study black American literature that focuses the noir genre on black people themselves. We will read gritty, urban crime novels that attempt to expose inequities in black American lives and dispel the notion that a descent from whiteness results in blackness. Rather, the black people in these texts exist in darkness because they are living in alienated communities. We shall investigate how the noir genre is altered when “noirs” are the subjects and the authors. In addition to primary texts, the course will engage critical responses to these works. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
What makes the dark so terrifying? Why do humans use fiction to invent strange creatures and supernatural threats? How does horror contribute to what it means to be human? What does the weird or the strange tell us about society? This course examines the literary, philosophical, and social aspects of weird fiction, a tradition of literature and genre fiction running from the early nineteenth century up to the present. It examines the most well-known writer of the weird, H.P. Lovecraft, but it also looks at work by Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Octavia Butler, Victor LaValle, Kelly Link, Jeff VanderMeer, and others. The course introduces students to the study of genre fiction, theoretical approaches to literature (including posthumanism, psychoanalysis, and ecotheory), and cultural studies (including critical race theory and feminism). It asks students to consider how weird fiction challenges racism, misogyny, homophobia, and colonialism. While no prior training in critical theory is necessary, students are encouraged to have some familiarity in analyzing and writing on literature. The class will also offer opportunities for creative efforts and experimental writing. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group II and Course Group III.
In responding to the obstacles facing America's immigrants -- problems of xenophobia, dislocation, split identity, family disunity and claustrophobia, culture shock, language barriers, economic marginality, and racial and national oppression -- women often assume special burdens and find themselves having to invent new roles. They often bring powerful bicultural perspectives to their tasks of survival and opportunity seeking, however, and are increasingly active in struggles for cultural expression and social and economic justice. We will examine the different conditions for women in a variety of immigrant groups in America, reading in several histories, anthologies of feminist criticism, interdisciplinary surveys, and relevant texts in critical theory, and on the words, in autobiography, poetry, and fiction, of foreign-born women writers. We will read such works as Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior; Bharati Mukerjee's Darkness; Marilyn Chin's The Phoenix Gone; Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy; and Shelly Oria's New York 1, Tel Aviv 0. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
Novelists Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster, the artists Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry, and Duncan Grant, the economist Maynard Keynes, and biographer Lytton Strachey and their circle were among the most innovative and creative people of their time, producing art, literature and a way of life that both shocked and impressed the cultural establishment of early twentieth-century Britain. Readings include Woolf’s To the Lighthouse; E.M. Forster’s Howards End; short pieces by Vanessa Bell, Clive Bell, Roger Fry, Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey; a selection of letters by Carrington; and Aldous Huxley’s satirical novel about Bloomsbury, Crome Yellow. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course group III.
This course is designed to provide students with a specific and global view of the diversity of literatures from the African continent. We will read texts written in English or translated from French, Portuguese, Arabic and African languages. Through novels, short stories, poetry, and drama, we will explore such topics as the colonial encounter, the conflict between tradition and modernity, the negotiation of African identities, post-independence disillusion, gender issues, apartheid and post-apartheid. In discussing this variety of literatures from a comparative context, we will assess the similarities and the differences apparent in the cultures and historical contexts from which they emerge. Readings include Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Naguib Mahfouz's Midaq Alley, Calixthe Beyala's The Sun Hath Looked Upon Me, Camara Laye's The African Child, and Luandino Vieira's Luanda. Dist: INT or LIT; WCult: NW. Course Group III.
Although once associated with juvenile literature, narratives of sequential art—or graphic novels—have recently been hailed as a compelling new form of literature, one that offers fresh possibilities of reading which combine visual and literary experiences. With an emphasis on the careful analysis of a wide range of contemporary texts, this course examines the types of "stories" and "readings" that are made possible when normally separate symbol systems like pictures and words converge. Discussion will center on the narrative mechanics as well as the cultural work of graphic novels, as we consider the genre's theoretical and formal preoccupations with autobiography, counterculture, parody, science-fiction, and fantasy. Secondary readings will introduce students to the critical responses that graphic novels have provoked. Some of the authors we'll look at include Will Eisner, Art Spiegelman, Alan Moore, Chris Ware, Marjane Satrapi, Daniel Clowes, the Hernandez brothers, Alison Bechdel, and Lynda Barry. In addition to giving a presentation, students will be required to write two formal essays and several short responses. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
The course will focus on Faulkner's fiction of the American South: its haunted culture, its racism, its legends. We will read The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Absalom Absalom!, Light in August, and The Hamlet. Faulkner's place in the history of modernism will be a continuing concern, as will important critical readings of the novels. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
IThis course explores the abundant crime fiction and murder mysteries by contemporary Native American artists. These works imagine a democratized space where colonial violence is avenged, American law is malleable, and intellect triumphs over racism. While most critics applaud such decolonizing efforts, we will ask more difficult questions: do these sensational narratives do real cultural work? Do they suggest that colonial violence begets only more violence? And in the end, who are its true victims? Dist:LIT; WCult:W. Course Group III.
This class will examine the development of science fiction as literature, considering the distinctive characteristics of the genre. We will read critical perspectives on sci-fi that connect it to both modern and postmodern themes; we will think through the politics of sci-fi, focusing especially on its utopian and dystopian elements; we will articulate the many subgenres of sci-fi; we will investigate the unusually strong influence of the community of readers on the published texts in sci-fi. But primarily we will read representative examples, novels, stories, and even some films, from well-known classics to little-known and marginal texts. Authors may include John Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Ursula Le Guin, Arthur Clark, Philip Dick, Octavia Butler, William Gibson, James Tiptree, Jr., Stanislaw Lem, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Samuel Delaney, Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson, Greg Egan, Ted Chiang, and still others. The class will have an opportunity to shape the syllabus somewhat according to the preferences of enrolled students. Dist: LIT, pending faculty approval. Course Group III.
This course will examine the work of a variety of Caribbean writers from former British colonies. We will look at several issues that reappear throughout the work of these authors. These concerns include notions of exile, the importance of language and music, the articulation of identity in varying post-colonial states, and representations of gender, race and ethnicity. The class will move from early twentieth century writers like Claude McKay to the important contributions of later writers such as Kamau Brathwaite, Jamaica Kincaid, George Lamming, V.S. Naipaul, Sam Selvon, Olive Senior and Derek Walcott. We will examine the more recent innovations in form, as musical elements are introduced by writers such as Mikey Smith and Kwame Dawes. Each week's readings will be supplemented with seminal critical writings including excerpts from the text The Empire Writes Back. Dist: LIT: WCult: CI. Course Group III.
The content of Jewish American Literature reflects that of many literatures including the broad variety of historical, political, social, and cultural experiences that Jews from very different places and backgrounds have brought to the United States. The course introduces students to the central topics, motives, and literary strategies from the beginnings of a tangible Jewish American literature in the late nineteenth century to the present. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
Muscogee poet, Joy Harjo has stated that Native Peoples are "...still dealing with a holocaust of outrageous proportion in these lands...Many of us...are using the 'enemy language' with which to tell our truths, to sing, to remember ourselves during these troubled times." This course examines the ways contemporary American Indian and other indigenous poets employ literary gestures of resistance and creativity to outlive the ongoing effects of colonialism. We explore how their poetry contributes to the reclamation and continuity of tribal memory and the regeneration of tribal traditions and communities. Our course includes lyric voices from the reservation, from the city, and from indigenous spaces in diasporic and global contexts. We will examine the combined influences that oral tradition, ritual life, and tribal values have on these contemporary poets. The indigenous poetic voice occupies a unique position in contemporary American poetry, but also in the discourse of settler colonialism. This course traces how the themes of these poetic voices bring forward images of past and contemporary experience, to craft a poetic tradition that is distinctly indigenous. Distributive: Dist: LIT; WCult: CI Course Group III.
This course examines the development of the American comic book in its historical, cultural, and political contexts. Key topics include: pre-comics visual storytelling and the conceptual problems with seeking such precedents; the explosion of the American comic strip during the Yellow Journalism period; the formats, forms, and genres of the early comic book industry; the rise of DC Comics, home to Superman; artist-run “shops” and the development of romance and horror comics; the 1950s Kefauver hearings and the introduction of the Comics Code; the “Silver Age,” the decline of DC and the rise of Marvel Comics; Underground Comix and Sixties counterculture; censorship and creative rights skirmishes of the 1980s and 90s; and the legitimation of comics as “graphic novels.” Along the way, we will read historical comics (in reprint anthologies) to explore the comics form: visual narration, the development and assignment of distinct styles to different genres, and the historical import of individual creators from Jerry Siegel and Will Eisner to Alison Bechdel and the Hernandez Brothers. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
The decade of the 1960’s brought the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts to American politics. What did it bring to African American literature and culture? This course will take a year-by-year approach to understanding the artistic and cultural transformations of Black culture during this turbulent decade. Beginning with Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun, we will examine major social and artistic issues of the decade by reading a variety of fiction, poetry and memoir. Writers we will study may include Amiri Baraka, Robert Hayden, James Baldwin, Dick Gregory, John Williams, Lucille Clifton, Sonia Sanchez and Eldridge Cleaver. Topics may include the rise of African American popular culture (such as Motown and Stax Records), Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, feminism and Black nationalism. Dist: LIT; WCult: W Course Group III.
The 2016 film I Am Not Your Negro encourages a new generation to explore the life and work of James Baldwin (1924-1987). Directed by Haitian-born filmmaker Raoul Peck, I Am Not Your Negro is a provocative documentary that envisions a book Baldwin never finished by providing insight into Baldwin's relationship with three men who were assassinated before their fortieth birthdays—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
In this course we will interrogate questions of race, sexuality, violence, and migration. Our current political moment encourages the examination of these issues while Baldwin's life and work provides the ideal vantage point for their investigation. Using I Am Not Your Negro as our starting point, Baldwin's life and work will allow us the opportunity to explore transatlantic discourses on nationality, sexuality, race, gender, and religion. We will also explore the work of other writers including Richard Wright, Frantz Fanon, Audre Lorde, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Dist: INT/SOC: WCult: CI. Course Group III.
The persistence of black life, and blackness as a way of thinking about the organization of both human and nonhuman forms of life, has been absolutely central to the story of the United States and the Americas more broadly. This course provides an interdisciplinary exploration of the writing of thinkers from across the African diaspora, with special emphasis on literary works and criticism centrally concerned with the intersections of black literary studies and African American environmental thought. We will draw on a range of texts in order to wrestle with some of the key concerns of African American writers from the 19th century through the present. Students will be introduced to a range of methods and approaches to the meta-disciplinary work of black literary studies. By the end of the course, students will be expected to possess a working knowledge of several major themes, figures and moments within the black expressive tradition. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
This course examines the autobiographical writing of a variety of women from across the globe. Paying attention to the socio-political contexts within which these women write, we will discuss the ways in which these authors negotiate different worlds while being marginalized along vectors such as race, class, and gender. For this reason, the class is inherently interdisciplinary. Most of the works we will examine have achieved significant critical acclaim, and we will also examine the artistic innovations in these narratives. Texts will include works such as Staceyann Chinn’s The Other Side of Paradise, Jackie Kay’s Red Dust Road, Julie Marie Wade’s Wishbone, Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped, Jeanette Winters’ Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Malala Yousafzai’s I am Malala, Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
No other group of Jewish critics has been so influential in American literary and cultural politics as the New York Intellectuals, who came to prominence with the foundation of the Partisan Review (1937-2003). Starting from the assumption of what Russel Jacoby has identified as a Jewish- gentile split among the NYI, this course shall focus on how the political and cultural debates informed their notions of Jewish -American identity, particularly with respect to other minorities. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
This course surveys a series of critical paradigms for studying American literature and culture in a hemispheric context. We’ll explore a variety of approaches to hemispheric literary and cultural studies, considering reanimations of the conquest, comparative and shared romantic and revolutionary discourses, the literature of the hemispheric South, borderlands studies, the study of state-sponsored literary institutions that cross national borders, and inter-American attempts to imagine solidarity across the hemisphere. At the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to produce a creative project rendering their own hemispheric imaginary. Authors may include Leonora Sansay, Martin Delany, María Ruiz de Burton, Jose Martí, Américo Paredes, Carmen Lyra, Gabriel García Márquez, Jamaica Kincaid, and Giannina Braschi. All texts are available in translation. Dist:LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
Focusing on contemporary Asian American literature, film, and popular culture, this course emphasizes a diverse range of engagements with gender and sexuality that disrupts binary thinking on the topic. Through close analysis of cultural texts, students will examine the formation of Asian American genders and sexualities alongside histories of racialization, migration, and labor. Texts may include: Monique Truong's The Book of Salt, David Henry Hwang's M Butterfly, R. Zamora Linmark's Rolling the R's, Justin Lin's Better Luck Tomorrow, as well as episodes of Battlestar Galactica and 24. We will also read critical essays by Gayatri Gopinath, David Eng, Yen Le Espiritu, Karen Tongson, Lisa Nakamura, and Martin Manalansan. DIST: LIT. Course Group III.
Though David Simon’s Baltimore cop drama was not the popular sensation when it aired (2002-2008) that “Breaking Bad” or “Game of Thrones” are today, it is widely considered one of the best shows in television history. Over sixty episodes the fascinating and often disturbing series explores a range of social and political issues familiar in contemporary American cities, but it does so with unusual literary ambition and success. In the course, we’ll treat the series as a work of literature—asking how its use of plot, narrative, character, conflict, etc. recalls the artistry of Sophocles, Shakespeare and, especially, Dickens. Readings will include texts from each of these authors and all five seasons of the show, as well as analyses of individual episodes. Dist: LIT Course Group III.
Description: What is an epic and how do its imaginary, cultural, and rhetorical impulses of displacement, unknown cartographies, madness, new identities, conceptual crossroads and translation lead to an eventual theorization of diaspora? The course has three inter-related goals: to study six examples of epic in the Black Diaspora moving from West Africa to the Anglo-Franco-Hispano-phone Caribbean; 2. to relate these texts to diaspora pathogen and food-ways, spiritual practices and converging African and New World histories; and 3. to consider diaspora and chaos theory. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
Class participants will devote scrupulous interpretive attention to the works in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and to the adaptation of the series by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss as Game of Thrones. Benioff and Weiss’s adaptation of Martin’s epic fantasy began receiving serious academic attention from the airing of its first episode on April 17, 2011. Throughout the course, students will be asked to explain what elements of the first of George R. R. Martin’s medieval romance, A Game of Thrones, Benioff and Weiss revised, or deleted in adapting it to Seasons 1 and 7 of the HBO series Game of Thrones. In conducting these investigations, students will draw on a trove of library documents—sagas, medieval romances, travel narratives, histories, legal documents, hagiographies, political tracts,
philosophical discourses—and learn how the aforementioned disciplinary perspectives alter and enrich their understanding of these artifacts. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
The course focuses on comic strips from around the globe as a means of studying critical and literary theory, problems in visual translation, and a range of conventions for expressing caricature and visual humor. Topics will move from classic American comic strips to the Franco-Belgian and Japanese Manga traditions; thereafter, students will examine other traditions both collaboratively and independently. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
What makes an Asian/American “bad” and what makes a text “queer”? How does one shed light and offer insight on the other? How might the “bad” and the “queer” name the refusal and failure to assimilate and align oneself with racial capital, settler colonial logics, and reproductive futurity? How might both terms require us to rethink what narratives of belonging look, feel, and sound like and in turn, become the grounds for alternative solidarities, affiliations, and intimacies across lines of minority difference? To answer these questions, we will engage with primarily contemporary Asian/American works of literature, poetry, film, performance, and art that alters, disrupts, and varies Asian/American narratives of migration, assimilation, and upward mobility. Through these works, we will address historical processes of Asian/American racial, gender, and sexual formation by way of the “bad” and the “queer,” as transformative political and aesthetic categories of inquiry that risk failing to fit in, being wrong, and not belonging. Dist: INT or LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
This course takes a tour of haunted houses in American literature and film. What happens when the specter-filled estates of the European Gothic novel are transposed from the wild and windy moors of England into the corn fields of middle America? Or the hallways of the apartment building? Or the bungalows of suburbia? What does it mean to be haunted? What does it mean to be a house? Visiting mansions and plantations, churches and asylums, apartments and cabins, wombs and spaceships, we will consider who—and what—has been haunting the dwelling places of the 20th century and contemporary American imaginary. Authors will include William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Edgar Allan Poe, and Shirley Jackson. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
This course will examine the historical philosophy of the towering Black scholar and great freedom fighter of the 20th Century. We shall engage in close readings of Du Bois’ classic work, The Souls of Black Folk (1903) as well as subsequent essays in his magisterial corpus, especially his classic autobiography, Dusk of Dawn (1940). Course Group III.
How might we think about the shape, tenor, and texture of something like black love, its core principles and practices, in a world where anti-black sentiment serves as a structural logic? In the midst of such unrelenting violence, how have black people managed to love each other, love themselves, love living? What language have they crafted, historically, to describe such an expansive, radical project? For the purposes of this course, we will linger with a wide range of cinematic and literary moments with the aim of framing a much larger conversation about the uses of black art-making as a means through which we might access a critical vocabulary for black feeling; might assert the breaking into the world of a black love that is both resistance and that which exceeds it, love as a sort of black operation, black love as an act of marronage. Towards that end, this course will employ the films of contemporary writer and director Barry Jenkins, and place them in direct conversation with a larger constellation of writings within the African American literary tradition. Through our collective investigation of these texts, we will work together toward the elaboration of an aesthetics of black love. Dist: ART; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
Contemporary Britain can be seen as a divided state: leave versus remain, cosmopolitan urbanism against conservative rural communities, post-imperial malaise and the rise of global Anglophone influence. Britain is also a literary hotbed, home to the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and an arena in which cultural production (and social debates) still take the form of narrative. What is “Britain” at the start of the twenty-first century, in what is ostensibly a post-war, post-imperial, and post-modern era? How do fiction writers respond to the twin pulls of national nostalgia and multicultural, intersectional identities? How do experiments in narrative form and genre speak to the emergence of new social and political formations? How does contemporary British fiction adapt or respond to a longer (and well-established) lineage of UK novelists (from Austen and Dickens to Virginia Woolf)? This course focuses on British fiction published after 1980, including works by authors who identify as Black British, queer, feminist, Muslim, and immigrant. Possible authors include Zadie Smith, A. S. Byatt, Ian McEwan, Sarah Waters, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jeanette Winterson, and Hanif Kureishi. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
This course examines the classical works of three towering modern intellectuals: W.E.B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, and Lorraine Hansberry. We wrestle with the rich formulations, subtle arguments and courageous visions of three Black thinkers who continue to speak with power and passion to our turbulent times. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
Indians are uncanny absences in the American narrative and yet persistent fixtures in our national literature from its origins to the present day. This course examines the pervasive appearance of the seductive, strange, and evolving Indian figure in works by prominent American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, James Fenimore Cooper, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, and Toni Morrison. We will explore the shifting and ideological role of the Indian as tragic emblem, savage defender, spiritual ally, and modern foil. We will explore the complicated ways that the literary Indian has served to both authenticate and trouble the nation's founding narratives and desires, and more recently, to stand as a mythical antidote to postmodern crises of value, economics, ecology, and spirituality. We will consider the appeal of such tropes in particular regional and historical contexts, such as the Reconstruction South, as well as racial or ethnic ones, such as the African American appropriation of Indian resistance, nobility, and genealogies. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
This course will focus on the role of storytelling and its importance to community in works of literature and anthropology. Rather than study short stories, we will consider why novels, as longer forms of fiction, nevertheless include storytelling by characters. How does such storytelling work? We will read several twentieth-century novels in which characters telling stories function as means of reforming community. In novels and anthropological study, we will pay particular attention to the ways that storytelling can reconceive identities of individuals and of history, at times opening up both so that persons and history become diverse and extensive. The boundaries of community may also become extensive, resisting containment and refusing to conform to a common cultural identity. We will read Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Storyteller” as well as several critical essays focusing on storytelling. Novels will include William Faulkner’s The Hamlet and Absalom, Absalom, Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, and Toni Morrison’s Paradise. Works of anthropology will include Kathleen Stewart’s A Space on the Side of the Road: Cultural Poetics in an “Other” America. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
This course will offer an introduction to American Jewish culture by focusing on the perception of New York City among successive generations of Jewish writers, performers, and cultural activists. Although our focus will be primarily on literary sources, in English and translated from Yiddish, we will also consider memoirs, political documents, journalism, music, and film. The topics we will consider include:How are the ambivalences of immigration expressed among Jewish immigrants writing, alternately, in English or in Yiddish?
How does the city provide new modes of expression for Yiddish writers?
How does music offer a venue for Jewish performers to enter an American “mainstream” while preserving an audible sense of Jewish difference?
How do Yiddish writers address the Holocaust, and what challenges emerge when translating Yiddish into English after the Holocaust?
How do post-War Jewish intellectuals, the children of immigrants, critique their society and influence the development, and denouement, of American liberalism?
How does the “sexual revolution” challenge notions of a distinct Jewish ethnicity and ethos, and what strategies do Jewish authors develop to critique changing mores and morals from a specifically Jewish perspective?
How does an avant-garde Jewish theatre contribute to a contemporary understanding of American culture as multi-cultural, hybrid, and hyphenated?
Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
Limited to 20 students, these courses will vary in content. They are intended to introduce students to advanced research and prepare them for their senior seminars and honors theses. Coursework and instruction will build toward a substantial paper of 12-15 pages of sustained inquiry and with a research component. Recommended prerequisites: two completed English courses, or permission of the instructor. Dist: LIT. WCult: Varies.
This course will explore the literature of Jewish American women from the late nineteenth century to the present; topics for discussion will include feminism, sexuality, identity politics, activism, and literary transmission. Among the readings will be poetry, fiction, memoir, and essays by such writers as Lazarus, Antin, Yezierska, Stock, Stein, Olsen, Rukeyser, Paley, Ozick, Rich, Piercy, Levertov, Gluck, Goldstein, Wasserstein, Goodman, Klepfisz, Feinberg, Chernin. Dist.: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
This course is an in-depth study of Toni Morrison’s major fictional works. We will also read critical responses by and about the author. We will examine Morrison’s earliest and arguably most foundational and influential works. Required texts will include The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, A Mercy, and Conversations with Toni Morrison. Central to our exploration will be an analysis of Morrison’s observation that “the past affects the present.” Therefore, we will explore the social and historical factors that contribute to Morrison’s artistic constructions. Some of the issues we will examine include alternative constructions of female community and genealogy, and representations of race, class, nationhood, and identity. DIST: INT or LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
Love or money? It is difficult to decide which of these forces influences our lives more greatly. While money may not buy happiness, love seldom manages to put food on the table. This course examines literary texts, films, and other kinds of cultural objects in which romance and finance overlap and come into conflict. It examines the ways in which both finance (especially speculation) and literature believe in the reality of fiction. The course broadly considers the social ramifications of the financialization of daily life, drawing on anthropology, sociology, political economy, and cultural studies to thicken our understanding of what it means to live in a world where finance determines so much. Students will have the opportunity to design a project dealing with issues of financial literacy. Possible readings/viewings include: Theodore Dreiser’s The Financier, Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, William Gibson’s Peripheral, The Big Short (dir. Adam McKay), The Wolf of Wall Street (dir. Martin Scorsese), and Alissa Quart’s Monetized. DIST: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
Anticolonial struggle and movements for social justice have always been accompanied by a range of cultural practices, including fiction, art, music, film, murals, theater, graffiti, and theory. This course explores that tradition of cultural activism, considering attempts to narrate revolutionary formation, imagine solidarity, and write decolonial theory. We will begin by examining revolutionary nationalist and anti-imperialist culture in the Americas—ranging from the memoirs of Che Guevara and Malcolm X to Nuyorican and Chicano Movement literature—in order to consider the formation of revolutionary subjects, and how 20th century ideas of revolution were raced and gendered. We will then consider how novelists, artists, photographers, filmmakers, and activists attempted to imagine solidarity with revolutionary movements and suffering others in the Americas, from Central America solidarity photography to performance art in solidarity with Guantanamo Bay prisoners. We will pay special attention to the work of feminist and queer solidarity artists, writers, and performers. Finally, we will examine contemporary activist cultural projects, such as PanAmerican public art road trips and hashtag activism. Students will have the opportunity to produce a creative or multimedia final project. Dist: INT or LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
A study of Nobel Prize writers from various Anglophone countries, this course examines authors' aesthetic innovations alongside their engagement in cultural, socio-political, and national discourses. Although the focus will be on poetry, the course will also explore the relationship between different genres (including essays, plays, and novels) and various socio-historical moments. Authors will include William Faulkner, Nadine Gordimer, Seamus Heaney, Wole Soyinka, Rabindranath Tagore, Derek Walcott, Patrick White, and W.B. Yeats. Dist: LIT: Course Group III.
This course explores the many forms of horror and haunting—racial, cultural, historic, economic, political—in the region known as the U.S. South., a national space where the possibilities of regeneration are continually thwarted by the aftershocks of a harrowing past. “Undead” tropes encompass numerous varieties of posthumous horror: the dead rising from graves; mourning and funerary practices; the glorification of lost causes and heroes; the excavation of unsuccessfully repressed crimes and bodies. We will consider both traditional forms of Gothic representation (in works by Poe, O’Connor, Faulkner, etc.) as well as contemporary resurgences in the vampires, zombies, and other necrotic forms of recent literature, television, film, and other media. Along the way, we will seek to identify the disturbing ways that the U.S. South has served—both consensually and coercively—as a kind of purgatorial space for America’s most haunting histories. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
What forms of exchange are possible in a world fast integrating, but increasingly uneven and unequal? What motivates “give and take” between individuals culturally or geographically distant, or separated by wealth? World fiction that grapples with these questions will provide queues for reflection on the ethics and pragmatics of cosmopolitanism. The readings imagine forms of friendship, dialogue, love, and goodwill which will be assessed against Enlightenment, Post-Enlightenment, and Democratic conceptions of rights, property, and community. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
This course examines the burgeoning field of electronic literature, including electronic prose, poetry, and many non-traditional literary artifacts. We will look at the antecedents of electronic literature, culturally specific subgenres, technical and material underpinnings, and the relationship between electronic literature and other literary forms. Assignments will include close reading, critical examination of e-lit as a genre, and opportunities to author electronic literature. Dist:LIT; WCult:W. Course Group III.
This junior colloquium asks how and why we might bring the perspectives and methods of queer studies to bear upon the history of slavery—and vice versa. We will examine questions of gender and sexuality, kinship and belonging, desire and the erotic, and history and futurity through readings in fiction, poetry, and drama alongside key works in the history of gender and sexuality, queer theory, and queer of color critique. Students will also develop critical skills and strategies for producing scholarship in literary and cultural studies, culminating in an original research paper. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
In this course, students will read a wide selection of speculative fiction written since the 1980s, and mostly in the past decade. These texts imagine the births of artificial minds and bodies and the deaths of natural worlds, voyages through outer space and travels through time. We will think about the relationship between sex, race, gender, technology, and power both within the pages of these books and in the ongoing creation and disputation of science fiction canons. Authors will include Octavia Butler, Ursula Le Guin, NK Jemisin, Jeff VanderMeer, and Ling Ma. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
This course engages with theories of race, sex, and sensation in critical race and ethnic studies, black and women of color feminism, and postcolonial studies. How does the violence enacted on racialized, sexed, gendered subjects exclude such subjects from the category of the individual, rights-bearing human cemented in Western philosophy? How is this exclusion enacted on the very surface of the skin and distinctly felt on one’s body? Who gets to claim humanity and subjecthood, and who has never been able to make such a claim? The readings in this course give an account of how racialized, sexed, gendered subjects are made to bear histories of enslavement, dispossession, genocide, and colonialism in ways that might not always be visible, but instead are sensed, felt, and embodied. We will work with literature, performance, and art that elucidates the political, social, and aesthetic possibilities found in the nonhuman, animality, objecthood, flesh, viscera, and touch. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
“The trouble with you, Robert, is that you write about – subjects.”
“The trouble with you, Wallace, is that you write about – bric-a-brac.”
Neither man was correct, but their characterizations hit a nerve, honing in on the kinds of superficial attributes that may render a first impression lasting. And while no one reads Stevens for his “bric-a-brac” many readers come to Frost for his subjects, which have been misunderstood and sentimentalized over time. It is important to remember, reading him now, that Frost’s New England was no Transcendental retreat, and no rural paradise; poor, depopulated by western expansion on the one hand, and the industrialization of mill towns on the other, it was a landscape of failed and abandoned farmsteads, old people and misfits left to fend on their own, worn-out fields, harsh climate, intellectually moribund and spiritually enervated. Frost came to this “subject” without illusions or bitterness and it is through this subject that we will begin to rethink his poetics and ideas. Using the extensive Frost archives in Rauner, students will be encouraged to undertake primary research alongside their reading of poems and criticism. The course will culminate in a substantial research paper or project, individually designed in consultation with the instructor. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
Before the oft-reproduced social-media mechanism of the selfie, there existed (and still does) the artistic self-portrait. Utilized in the creative realm to create a representation of the artist as both subject and object, self-portraits can be whimsical, grim, tantalizing, performative, or combative. In this course we will examine gendered constructions of self- portraiture as they exist in poetry, memoir, and photography. Specifically, our task will be to examine the registers of possibility present when women use their bodies and stories to claim authorial space. Our goal during the term will be to think through all of the mechanisms of the self that are deployed in the context of artistic practice. Students will produce their own photographic self- portraits and write an analytical paper on a contemporary writer or visual artist.
Senior Seminars, limited to 12 seniors and juniors, will vary in content. They will focus students on concentrated discussions and on a final research project of 20-25 pages. Recommended prerequisites: four completed English courses or permission of the instructor. Dist: LIT. WCult: Varies Course Group III
In 1942, the literary critic Alfred Kazin dismissed the documentary movement of the 1930s as a "sub-literature," a "vast granary of facts" from which poets and fiction writers might extract the raw material of true literature. Just a year before, though, James Agee and Walker Evans -- a journalist and photographer -- had published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a vast book, indeed, sprawling in its feverish devotion to the experimentation Agee and Evans believed necessary to even come close to telling a true story. Agee and Evans wanted it to be an object as much as a book, a challenge to literary culture; whatever it was, it wasn't "sub" anything. In this course we'll use the question of just what Agee's and Evan's combination of pictures and words might be as the heart of our exploration of the documentary sphere as encountered through the conjunction of text and image. In the first half of the course, we'll be guided by critical thinkers as we look at creative works and write our own critical essays; in the second, we'll be guided by creative work as we attempt our own even while we continue our conversations with more contemporary critical thinkers. Besides Agee and Evans, we'll be encountering among others, photographers Robert Frank, Sally Mann, Stephen Shore, Helen Levitt, Wendy Ewald, Teju Cole, Jean Mohr, Tanja Hollander, and Roy DeCarava; literary journalists Leslie Jamison, Michael Lesy, John Jeremia Sullivan, John Berger, and Charles Bowden; critics Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes, John Szarkowski, Jerry Thompson, Susie Linfield, Jeff Allred, and bell hooks; and poets Claudia Rankine, Marianne Moore, Langston Hughes, Donald Justice, and Kevin Young. DIST: LIT; WCult:W. Course Group III.
This course is an in-depth study of Toni Morrison’s major fictional works. We will examine Morrison’s earliest and arguably most foundational and influential novels. We will also read critical responses to Morrison’s works. Required texts will include, The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, A Mercy, Conversations with Toni Morrison, and selected essays. Central to our exploration will be an analysis of Morrison’s observation that “the past affects the present.” Therefore, we will explore the social and historical factors that contribute to Morrison’s artistic constructions. Some of the issues we will examine include, alternative constructions of female community and genealogy, and representations of race, class, nationhood, and identity. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
A study of Nobel Prize writers from various Anglophone countries, this course examines authors' aesthetic innovations alongside their engagement in cultural, socio-political, and national discourses. Although the focus will be on poetry, the course will also explore the relationship between different genres (including essays, plays, and novels) and various socio-historical moments. Authors will include William Faulkner, Nadine Gordimer, Seamus Heaney, Wole Soyinka, Rabindranath Tagore, Derek Walcott, Patrick White, and W.B. Yeats. Dist: LIT: Course Group III.
An orphan, a female poet, a lesbian, a long-term expatriate in Brazil, Elizabeth Bishop is nowhere definitively at home; for a long time, literary criticism had trouble accommodating her as well. Recently, queer, feminist, and postcolonial analyses have provided a new critical context for this elusive poet; we will read widely in this work, while focusing on Bishop's poems, drafts, and letters. We will also consider her relationships with contemporaries like Moore and Lowell. Dist: LIT; WCult: NA. Course Group III.
This seminar will be devoted to the study of Joyce's Ulysses. After some discussion of Joyce's Portrait and Dubliners -- both of which students are urged to read before the course begins -- we will focus on the text of Joyce's Ulysses, with an emphasis on close reading and an examination of Joyce's experiments in prose and his place in modern literature. Each student will be asked to write two papers. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
In this course we analyze the historical relationships between science and imperialism, exploration and discovery, conquest and the mining of natural resources. Engaging with postcolonial, feminist, and queer theory, we also read in the field of science and technology studies. Readings include not only a number of science fiction novels, short stories, and films by people of color across the Americas, but also a broader set of "scientific fictions." For example, we read work by Afro-Caribbean-Canadian writer Nalo Hopkinson alongside postcolonial critiques of the so-called "digital divide." Similarly, we read the speculative fiction of Karen Tei Yamashita, a California native who also lived in Brazil and Japan, against the backdrop of U.S. imperialism in Latin America and the fictions of "development" used to rationalize such endeavors. African-American writers Octavia Butler and Samuel Delany offer helpful counter-texts to the history of medical experimentation on people of color in the U.S. and the homophobia of AIDS discourse in the 1980s. In essence, we look to the speculative fiction by people of color as examples of what Hopkinson has termed "postcolonial science fiction," which re-imagines science and technology in the service of transnational networks rather than Empire. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.
Although he never received a college degree and lived most of his life in a small town in one of the most impoverished states in the nation, William Faulkner is now acclaimed throughout the world as one of the greatest modern writers. In this seminar, we will focus on Faulkner's fiction and on its place in the history of modernism. Particular attention will be given to the importance of Southern history and Southern legends, which are inseparable in the fiction from the experiences of individual and family life. We will read The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Absalom Absalom!, Light in August, Go Down, Moses, and The Hamlet and study the work of critics who have debated the meanings of Faulkner’s art, especially, for recent critics, the importance of race to the stories he tells. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III.
This course explores contemporary hemispheric fiction and film’s attempts to represent how we live now: to map the economic and cultural changes of the last forty years, including the death of 1960s social movements and the shift to a new form of global capitalism. Throughout the course, we will consider the inter-Americanism of these works, exploring how these authors grapple with parallel and overlapping historical conditions, and attend particularly to questions of form and genre. We will consider how genres like chick lit and detective fiction might solicit readers to think and feel in ways that are in line with national and multinational economic imperatives, but also how authors have attempted to create new forms to describe and challenge contemporary conditions of work, war, debt, and depression. Authors may include Roberto Bolaño, Terry McMillan, Junot Diaz, Claudia Rankine, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Karen Russell, Eden Robinson, and César Aira. All texts are available in translations. Dist:LIT; WCult:W. Course Group III.
In light of recent protest movements that target issues of race and gender, the prescient words of numerous artists continue to be evoked and volleyed about in contemporary media outlets. Yet the contexts of many of these utterances are largely ignored. Delving into some of these contexts and engaging many of these artists’ larger oeuvre, this course is a multidisciplinary investigation of major protest poets of the twentieth century. It explores the ways in which poets living in the United States, and particularly members of historically marginalized communities, not only pushed back at the powers-that-be, but continuously saw and articulated themselves as simultaneously a part of and a part from larger “American” society. The course wrestles with the well-known and often contentious topics: race, class, and gender. Starting with turn-of-the-century writers like Claude McKay—whose words have become synonymous with outspoken critiques of World War I and the “Red Scare”—and ending with contemporary writers like Balakian and Chin, the course moves chronologically. Some of the writers it examines include, Peter Balakian, Amiri Baraka, Staceyann Chin, Lucille Clifton, Mayda Del Valle, Karen Garrabrant, Allen Ginsberg, Zbignew Herbert, Robert Lowell, Juan Felipe Herrera, Langston Hughes, Etheridge Knight, Denise Levertov, Haki Madhubuti, Jill McDonough, Claude McKay, Alice Notley, Emmy Perez, Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath, Sonia Sanchez, and Dorothy Tse. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III.