Course Group IV

ENGL 44

Introduction to Digital Studies

This course introduces the basic ideas, questions, and objects of new media studies, offering accounts of the history, philosophy, and aesthetics of new media, the operation of digital technologies, and the cultural repercussions of new media. A primary emphasis on academic texts will be supplemented by fiction, films, music, journalism, computer games, and digital artworks. Class proceeds by group discussion, debate, student presentations, and peer critique. Typical readings include Alan Turing, Friedrich Kittler, Ray Kurzweil, and Henry Jenkins, plus films such as Blade Runner and eXistenZ. Dist: ART. Course Group III & Course Group IV.

ENGL 45

Introduction to Literary Theory

The course will introduce students to some of the leading texts, concepts, and practices of what has come to be known as theoretical criticism. Topics to be considered may include some of the following: structuralism, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, feminism, new historicism, post-colonialism, post-modernism, queer theory, and cultural studies. Attention will also be given to historical and institutional contexts of this criticism. Intended to provide a basic, historically informed, knowledge of theoretical terms and practices, this course should enable students to read contemporary criticism with understanding and attempt theoretically informed criticism themselves. Dist: LIT. Course Group IV.

ENGL 46

Old and New Media

A survey of the historical, formal, and theoretical issues that arise from the materiality and technology of communication, representation, and textuality. The course will address topics in and between different media, which may include oral, scribal, print, and digital media. Readings and materials will be drawn from appropriate theorists, historians, and practitioners, and students may be asked not only to analyze old and new media, but also create with them. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group IV.

ENGL 47/LING 18

History of the English Language

The development of English as a spoken and written language as a member of the Indo-European language-family, from Old English (Beowulf), Middle English (Chaucer), and Early Modern English (Shakespeare), to contemporary American English. Emphasis will be given to the linguistic and cultural reasons for 'language change,' to the literary possibilities of the language, and to the political significance of class and race.  Dist: QDS  Course Group IV.

ENGL 48

Critical Issues in Postcolonial Studies

This course charts one genealogy of postcolonial theory as it developed in the Anglo-American academy in the 1980s. Drawing on the two internationalist traditions of the late nineteenth and twentieth century, Marxism and Psychoanalysis, this course examines the ways in which these two theoretical frameworks helped construct postcolonial thinking while at the same time becoming the sites of its most rigorous critique. The course will begin with an introduction to some of the key concepts in Marxist and psychoanalytic thought, specifically as these two traditions understand colonialism. Then, we will read the work of postcolonial thinkers, such as Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, and Homi Bhabha, to consider their critiques of colonial thought and practices. Throughout the course, we will attend to the way in which racial and sexual difference is considered in the readings. The theoretical material for the course will be supplemented with our engagement with four films: Xala (Dir. Ousmane Sembène, 1975); The Battle of Algiers (Dir. Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966); Fire (Dir. Deepa Mehta, 1996); Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (Dir. Isaac Julien, 1996). Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: NW.  Course Group IV.

 

ENGL 54

Topics in Course Group IV: Criticism and Theory

Courses offered periodically and with varying content in the fields of literary criticism and literary theory 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: Varies; WCult: Varies Course Group IV.

ENGL 54.01

Shakespeare Adaptations

What happens when movie writers and directors adapt Shakespeare’s plays for the screen? How does an audience’s awareness of a literary precedent influence reception? What kinds of adaptations do we value and what role does their faithfulness to originals play? This course will look at twelve adaptations of major plays that most consider somewhat radical (e.g. Chicken Rice War; Omkara, Ran, Forbidden Planet, Scotland, P.A.) exploring the conceptual and cinematic strengths of the adaptations, as well as what their attempts to preserve or recast elements of Shakespeare’s plays reveals about the energies of the originals. Each film should thus prove a site of discussion in its own right, as well as an interpretive text that both critiques and argues the merits of the source text. Students can expect to read seven plays and see at least two adaptations of each, writing short responses to each play and film on canvas. Dist: LIT; WCult: W, Course Group IV

ENGL 54.02

Arts of Laughter: Comedy and Criticism

What makes us laugh? Does laughter have the power to change the world? Can comedy transform society? These are only some of the questions that this course addresses. This course examines literary works, stand-up comedy, rom-coms and classic Hollywood comedy, and sit-com television (among other comedic forms) in order to consider the capacity for comedy to criticize the status quo and effect change. It also investigates theoretical approaches to comedy and laughter, such as Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic interpretation of jokes and Henri Bergson's philosophy of laughter, which ask why we laugh in the first place. Literary works and films may include Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, and Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer's Trainwreck. We will also discuss stand-up performances by the likes of Aziz Ansari, Louis C.K., and Margaret Cho; sit-com programs including I Love Lucy, Blackish, and Fresh Off the Boat; and skit shows such as Saturday Night Live and Chappelle's Show. Students will have the opportunity to not only write about comedy but also produce and perform comedy. DIST: LIT; WCult: W; Course Group IV.

ENGL 54.03/WGSS 51.09

Young Adult Literature

This course explores the genre of young adult fiction in the 20th and 20th century. While the course will begin with a brief consideration of the conventions and early history of the genre, most of the course will examine post-1970s (mostly American) young adult novels. We’ll trace the evolution of the genre in relation to ideas of racial innocence, sentimentality, consent, queer childhood, and revolutionary girlhood, and position the novels within historical contexts such as the rise of mass incarceration, settler colonialism, fantasies of post-racial politics, and environmental disaster. At the end of the course, we’ll consider how young adult novels have created not just reading but creative communities, and explore the kinds of fan productions that have emerged in relation to young adult novels. The course will include critical and creative assignments. Texts may include The Hunger Games; the Harry Potter series; Are You There God; It’s Me Margaret; The Outsiders; The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing; Vivian Apple at the End of the World; Fangirl; Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe; Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian; The Fault in Our Stars; Ship Breaker; Long Division; Monster; Akata Witch; Make Your Home Among Strangers. Dist: LIT, WCult: CI. Course Group IV.

ENGL 54.13

Digital Game Studies

This course explores digital gaming. Reading academic and popular texts, we will situate digital gaming in relation to new media, visual, and literary studies. Class discussion will focus on outstanding problems in digital game studies: Where do the histories of technology and gaming meet? How do games change players and how do games shape culture? What about designers and programmers? In what ways are digital games playful and what aspects of them are expressive? What is the future of gaming? Of course this class will also study particular games, and, in addition to writing academic essays, students will invent individual and group projects in the game domain. Dist: TAS Course Group IV.

ENGL 54.16

Literary Classics

Hamlet, Paradise Lost, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, The Waste Land: these texts are among the cornerstones of a literary canon that still exerts enormous influence even as it is intensely contested. How does a play, a novel, or a poem become a “literary classic”? In this course, we will read a series of indisputably “great” texts in order to understand the complex forms of evaluation (aesthetic, political, moral, and commercial) that both underpin and revise notions of canonicity. Drawing on theoretical work by Gauri Viswanathan, Pierre Bourdieu, Theodor Adorno, and Pascale Casanova, we will also consider the varied institutional contexts (from the colonial civil service to the liberal arts classroom, from small presses to multinational publishers, from Masterpiece Theatre to contemporary Bollywood) that govern these processes. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group IV.

English 54.15/COLT40.01

History of the Book

This course examines the book as a material and cultural object.   We'll  consider various practical and theoretical models for understanding the book  form and investigating the materials, technologies, institutions, and practices of its production, dissemination, and reception.   We'll focus primarily on the printed book in Western Europe and North America, but we'll also spend time talking about the emergence of the codex (book), medieval manuscript books, twentieth and twenty-first century artist's books and the challenges posed by digitality to the book form.   The readings for the course will be balanced by frequent use of exemplars drawn from Rauner Library and  practical experience in the Book Arts workshop setting type.  Dist: LIT, WCult: W. Course Group IV. 

ENGL 54.40

Literary Culture in the Age of Digital Distraction

This course is organized around two main projects that will investigate the interesting and compelling ways that "traditional" forms of literacy are evolving to coexist with digital and social media. First, students will choose a contemporary practice, tool, or genre in which print and digital media have converged (e.g. book lists on Goodreads, e-book hardware, "Twitter fiction"), exploring what if anything is "new" about it. Next, student groups will design and prototype a digital technology that reimagines the ways that literature is produced or consumed in the context of digital media. This project will accommodate students with varying levels of technical expertise, though no programming experience is presumed. Throughout the course, readings on the history of media, the ethnography of literacy, and human-computer interaction will guide both our writing and production. Dist: ART. Course Group IV.

ENGL 62.22

Atlantic Slavery

When does slavery find itself chiasmatically mirrored in freedom? From the recent Hollywood blockbuster 12 Years a Slave (2013) to the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore, the legacies of slavery and racial violence continue to cast their shadow over horizons of emancipationist history even as America commemorates the sesquicentennial of the U.S. Civil War. In this course we will revisit the literatures of slavery and antislavery in the Atlantic world from the eighteenth century to the present. Our novels and stories imagine episodes of slavery, slave rebellion, and fugitive flights to freedom across two centuries: from early transatlantic crossings of slaves and servants to the New World; to Tacky’s Revolt and its place in what Vincent Brown has recently called the “Coromantee Archipelago” in eighteenth century slave rebellion; to the spectacular soundings of the Haiti Revolution in the Age of Revolutions; to the messianic prophecies of Nat Turner in the early nineteenth century; to slave rebellions at sea; and finally to fugitive slave fictions in the abolitionist decade leading up to the Civil War. Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Course Group II & Course Group IV.

ENGL 64

Junior Colloquia in Course Group IV

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: Varies; WCult: Varies Course Group IV.

ENGL 64.01

Hysteria, Paranoia, Schizophrenia: The Case Study as Literary Genre

Dora, Schreber, the Wolf Man: Freud’s famous psychoanalytic case studies are organized around his patient’s words and symptoms, and yet they all have the narrative complexity and lurid family drama of the greatest nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century novels. This course explores the psychoanalytic case study as a unique literary genre in its own right, one that falls between the medical case history and the novel proper. We will read Sigmund Freud's case studies through three modes of reading: psychoanalytic feminist criticism; paranoid and reparative reading from queer critique; and, symptomatic reading from Marxist criticism. The readings of the cases will therefore be supplemented by texts in queer and feminist theory, continental philosophy, and literary criticism. Throughout the course, we will use the cases to explore questions of racial and sexual difference, the body, trauma, the psyche, and memory. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group IV.

ENGL 64.02

Garden Politics: Literature, Theory, Practice

What do gardens have to do with sexuality, empire, race, class, environmental degradation, the history of poetry, the social role of religion, and the future of art? In discussion of various literary, critical, theoretical, and eco-critical  texts, we will attempt to answer this question over the course of the term. While based in literary readings, the course supplements and contextualizes these with other readings and websites. We will also consider broader issues and discourses connecting humans and the environment. Authors may include Jamaica Kincaid, Olive Senior, T.S. Eliot, Derek Jarman, Francis Hodgson Burnett, Paul Fleischman, Willa Cather, and Kage Baker. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group IV.

ENGL 74

Senior Seminars in Course Group IV

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: Varies; WCult: Varies. Course Group IV. 

ENGL 74.01

Reading Freud

Why read Freud? Many of his most famous ideas (the Oedipus Complex, for example) have been discredited, disparaged, devalued, decried. So why read Freud? Using that question — a question that, in its very persistence, already crystalizes all that is most troubling, provocative, and intriguing about the Freudian text — students in this class will read Freud for his enduring value as the inventor, in psychoanalysis, of one of modernity’s most disturbing art forms, as an influential theorist of figuration and representation, as a fearless inquirer into the mysteries of gender and sexuality, and as a speculative thinker who continues to have a hold on our imagination precisely because he could never quite come to grips with all that had a hold on his imagination. Above all, we shall read Freud for what he has to teach us about the importance of risking failure and embarrassment, of remaining restless and uncertain in respect to one’s own thinking, of finding oneself in over one’s head. The texts we shall use to pursue this line of inquiry may or may not include any of the following: Studies on Hysteria, The Interpretation of Dreams, Three Essays on Sexuality, the case histories of Dora and the Wolf Man, Papers on Metapsychology and on Technique, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, Civilization and Its Discontents, and essays such as “Project for a Scientific Psychology,” “Screen Memories,” “The Uncanny,” “The Moses of Michelangelo,” “On Narcissism,” “Two Principles of Mental Functioning,” “A Child Is Being Beaten,” “The Economic Problem of Masochism,” “Constructions in Analysis,” “Analysis Terminal and Interminable,” and “Humor.” Dist: LIT; WCult: W; Course Group IV.

ENGL 74.02

Understanding Biopolitics

Biopolitics, loosely defined as the reciprocal incorporation of politics and life, describes not merely the dominant form that politics takes today but also, arguably, the form that politics has always taken. Healthcare, reproduction, immigration, security, racialization, risk management, emotional wellbeing, property and the common: There is no aspect of embodied existence that has not been affected, if not created (or at least grasped), by biopolitics. Nevertheless, the concept of biopolitics itself, introduced into the critical lexicon by Foucault and still subject to revision and working-through, remains far from settled. Accordingly, students in this seminar will read foundational texts of the burgeoning biopolitical canon — texts by Foucault, Arendt, Agamben, Esposito, Hardt and Negri, to name but a few — as a way of understanding biopolitics not as the basis for a new epistemology but as the term we accord a set of predicaments that emerge at the point where politics and life intercept one another. To facilitate that understanding, students will rely on the texts collected in Biopolitics: A Reader, supplemented by Esposito’s Terms of the Political and Melinda Cooper’s Life as Surplus. For their final paper, students will have the option of writing either an essay assessing the treatment of a biopolitical predicament across a range of texts or a biopolitical case study. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group IV.

ENGL 74.03

On Cruelty

What is cruelty? How can we understand the relation between cruelty and other forms of violence, such as sadism, masochism, and terrorism, all of which straddle the difficult boundary between pleasure and displeasure, enjoyment and pain. While the OED defines cruelty as the “disposition to inflict suffering” or “delight in or indifference to the pain or misery of others,” there is a long tradition in literature and film that gives flesh to this dictionary definition, working out the specificity of what cruelty is in relation to sexuality, the body, morality, and ethics. Perhaps the most popular example of this in literature is the work of Marquis de Sade. In this course, we will explore the concept of cruelty through a study of literary, filmic, psychoanalytic, and philosophical texts. During the course of the semester, we will also interrogate how appeals to cruelty underwrite various rights discourses, including debates on the death penalty, human and animal rights, and various international treatises that put a limit on the violence of war. Authors will include: Marquis de Sade, Antonin Artaud, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Films might include: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Dir. Pasolini), The Piano Teacher (Dir. Haneke), and Antichrist (Dir. von Trier). Dist: INT or LIT; WCult: W. Course Group IV.

ENGL 74.04

Postcolonial Bildungsroman: Youth and Happiness in the Global Novel

How does one grow up to find happiness? The “bildungsroman,” or novel of "coming to age,"  is a novelistic genre that arose in the late 18th century to answer precisely that question, by using stories of young protagonists to imagine the optimal path to happiness.  In this class, we will familiarize ourselves with texts considered “exemplary” of the bildungsroman in the Western tradition, then turn to non-Western narratives of youth to compare different conceptions of the link between youth and happy living. Primary texts include: J. W. Goethe, Wilhelm Meister ; Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice; Olive Schreiner, Story of an African Farm; Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights; Tawfiq al-Hakim, Bird of the East; Hahya Haqqi, The Saint’s Lamp; Chinua Achebe, No Longer at Ease; Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Ambiguous Adventure; Tayyeb Saleh, Season of Migration to the North; Ama Ata Aidoo, Our Sister Killjoy. Secondary texts include criticism by Mikhail Bakhtin, Franco Moretti, Jed Esty, and Joseph Slaughter. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III or IV.

COLT 19.01

Translation: Theory and practice

Translation is both a basic and highly complicated aspect of our engagement with literature. We often take it for granted; yet the idea of meanings "lost in translation" is commonplace. In this course we work intensively on the craft of translation while exploring its practical, cultural and philosophical implications through readings in theoretical and literary texts. All students will complete a variety of translation exercises, and a substantial final project, in their chosen language. 16W, 17W Only Dist:INT or LIT; WCult: W.