DISCOURSE, DESIRE AND REPRESENTATION
This course will situate various important concerns of modern critical theory in the perspective of Classical and Medieval culture (from Plato to the rise of Humanism), whose literary, philosophical and rhetorical writings have endured as a conceptual foundation for later movements of “literature,” “intepretation,” and “criticism” up to our time.
What are the relationships between signs, images and consciousness? How do language and discourse relate to the dynamics of the human mind and the social systems of a culture? How does the production of written texts at once express and displace human desire—what René Girard calls the “desire to desire?” What are the claims for the power of human speech to “represent” or “intepret” non-being, absence, or death-- much less, to assert the “truth” of unreal, imagined, or eternal things? What is individual “subjectivity,” and what is a literary “character”?
Readings will include selected writings from Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Plotinus, St. Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, John of Damascus, Dante and Du Bellay.
Emphasis during class meetings will be placed on the discussion of primary texts, but in their written students will be asked to assess the relevance of some important later thinker or critic—for instance, Schiller, Coleridge, Nietzsche, Freud, Gadamer, Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, Girard or Eco.
Grades in the course will be based on: participation (20%), the oral presentation of a paper topic (15%), and a final written essay (max. 20 pp.), due one week after the final session (65%).
Romantic Hellenism is easy to document but difficult to conceptualize. We shall examine Romantic poetry, prose, painting, and architecture in conjunction with current theoretical and historical studies, seeking to understand the intense appeal of classical antiquity (or more precisely, the idea of classical antiquity) in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. As Marx observed in the introduction to the Grundrisse (1857), The difficulty is not in grasping the idea that Greek art and poetry are bound up with certain forms of social development, but rather in understanding why they still constitute for us a source of aesthetic enjoyment and in certain respects prevail as the standard and model beyond attainment. Depending on the interests of the students, the particular topics of consideration might include the erotic and political appeal of classical antiquity; the relations between Hellenism, Orientalism, and the Gothic; the commodification of antiquity; and the relation of classical scholarship to literary uses of classical mythology. Some prior study of Romantic literature would be useful, but won't be essential. Further information will be available on the web: faculty.washington.edu/nh2/classes.htm
"The Woman Question" has long been a focal point in Victorian studies, with many studies of angels in the houses, madwomen in the attics, fallen women in the streets (and rivers), and various other types of women both as subjects and as subjected. From a set of readings and visual images, this seminar will consider ways in which questionable and questioning women serve both to reify and to challenge prevailing Victorian notions of the subjected woman. Texts: John stuart Mill, On Liberty: The Subjection of Women; Dickens, Bleak House (plus selections from Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Hard Times, Little Dorrit, Great Expectations), Graddon, Lady Audley's Secret; du Maurier, Trilby. Numberous paintings.
In the course we will combine literature, history, and social-political studies to probe the underside of American political culture, those tendencies the guardians of official culture need to repress, deny, minimize, or marginalize in order to sustain the approved sense of America as the redeemer nation. In concentrating on the early twentieth century, we’ll look at two influential spokesmen for the official America, Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, to catch the cross-currents among American idealism and American empire, imperialism, and militarism. Randolph Bourne develops a neglected and contrasting vision of America, as in his acerbic way does H. L. Mencken. In their critique of “Puritanism” and their celebration of Dreiser, Bourne and Mencken also open up the hidden—or not-so-hidden—tradition of suppression in America, a concern that relates to early twentieth-century evangelicalism, the Scopes trial, and Sinclair Lewis’s Elmer Gantry as well as the Palmer Raids of 1919 and the Sedition Act of 1916. A central interest in Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, a concern Bourne and Mencken were too close to see, is Dreiser’s pioneering insight into the emerging consumer capitalism of the early twentieth century, a powerful tendency William Appleman Williams connects with “empire as a way of life.” We’ll begin the course with a prologue, Mark Twain’s scathing indictment of American imperialism, “To the Person Sitting in Darkness” and his “War Prayer.” We’ll end with Dos Passos’s 1919 and Hemingway’s In Our Time, two works which render the impact of World War I and open up other dimensions of Bourne’s principled opposition to war and militarism. Under the pressure of reality I’ll probably scale down the reading but this gives you an idea of the range and point of view.
This class is loosely organized around three heuristic rubrics: Manifestoes, Minds, and Matter. As a whole the course does four things: orient the student with an overview of (mostly) British modernism circa 1900-1930; provide a general background for modernism from texts outside the field of literary studies per se (Simmel, Bergson, Giddens); engage some current critical conversations in the field; and allow focus on the work of particular authors. We will engage topoi such as embodiment and materiality—with particular attention to the status of the modernist object—as well as chronicle historical avant-gardes such as Vorticism and Imagism. Texts are mostly but not exclusively prose: Conrad's The Secret Agent; Ford's Good Soldier, West's The Return of the Soldier, Lewis's Tarr, with poems and essays by Loy and Pound for certain, but others may appear (Compton Burnett? Richard Aldington?). Students will write a 1,000 word book review of a critical monograph published 2004-6 and a final research paper.
There is one preexisting requirement: Students must read Paul de Man's translation of Madame Bovary prior to our first meeting. Not required but recommended: Levenson's The Genealogy of Modernism and Ekstein's Rites of Spring.
Please note: It is likely I teach a course on fashion and modernism 2006-7. This course will require students to have taken at least one prior course—graduate or undergraduate—in American, British, or European modernism.
This course will be organized around a particular critical question: how can we articulate racial and ethnic formations, histories, or political and intellectual traditions with postmodern technoculture studies and its claims about the increasing technological mediation of embodiment in general within the contemporary media ecology? We will be interested both in understanding, critiquing, and redressing the relative lack of attention to questions of race within technoculture studies, while also considering the critical potential for work on race and ethnicity of the kinds of cultural changes associated with new media and communications technologies. The course will situate popular narratives and speculations about an emergent “posthuman” condition alongside postmodern critiques of humanist and liberal subjectivity. The readings for the course will be drawn from cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk science fiction, with a particular focus on interventions by writers of color, along with the responses of multicultural writers to new technologies and technocultural narratives. While the primary focus will be on American writers, we will include readings that open out onto global and post-colonial formations. Key critical texts for the course might include N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman; Paul Gilroy, Against Race; Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes; and Troy Duster, Backdoor to Eugenics; along with essays by Donna Haraway, Stuart Hall, Harryette Mullen, Philip Brian Harper, Wendy Chun, Emily Apter, Alexander Weheliye, Hans Moravec, and Andy Clark. Fictional texts will most likely be chosen from the following list (please note we will not be reading all of these texts): Samuel R. Delany, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand; Octavia Butler, Dawn; Gwyneth Jones, White Queen; John Wright, The Golden Age; Geoff Ryman, Air; Bruce Sterling, Distraction; Ishmael Reed, Flight to Canada; Gerald Vizenor, Hotline Healers: An Almost Browne Novel; Guillermo Gomez-Pena, The New World Border and/or Dangerous Border-Crossers; Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist; Ruth L. Ozeki, My Year of Meats; along with stories by Ted Chiang, Mary Soon Lee, Nalo Hopkinson, Nisi Shawl, Jonathan Lethem, Paul Di Filippo, Charles Stross, and Cory Doctorow. We will spend some time on visual culture, possibly including films like The Matrix and Greg Pak’s Robot Stories, graphic novels such as the Transmetropolitan series, and some examples of new media art by Alex Rivera and/or the Mongrel collective. We will probably also spend some time on music, using Paul D. Miller/DJ Spooky’s book (and CD) Rhythm Science.
This course is designed as an introduction to methodologies in contemporary film studies, with a focus on the debates of modern film theory. We will begin with the inception of “academic” film studies in the late 1960s, paying special attention to the influential models of structural linguistics, Marxism, psychoanalysis and feminism and will survey the resulting model of spectatorship (often called "gaze theory") that emerged and flourished in the 1970s. Gaze theory taught us much about the workings of power and pleasure in images, but the hegemony of that model has since been challenged by a range of diverse positions, not only of various “identity” positions, but also by questions of historicity, genericity and referentiality. The majority of our time will be spent reading debates of the past ten years, including the return to work of mass cultural theorists like Benjamin and Kracauer, that question the orthodoxies of a classical spectatorship without abandoning the fundamental insight that there is something to be gained by theorizing the relationship between moving picture viewers, narrative cinematic structures, and the textual field of vision.
The majority of films viewed in the course will be American (“popular,” “mainstream,” or “Hollywood”) productions, ranging from the slapstick antics of Charlie Chaplin, through studio-era genre films of the 1930s and 1940s, to more contemporary products. In other words, in order to fully assess the range of film theoretical concepts, we will also consider—and question--the film historical cannon produced as a result. In addition, we will consider the problems resulting from theories of pleasure based on American cinema, and will discuss the possible parameters of alternative national, political and aesthetic movements in film historical discourse.
Friday sessions for this course are designated as film screening sessions. Monday and Wednesday times are for class meetings.
This colloquium will survey a range of topics that are currently prominent within the field of poetics. We will be discussing the suddenly increased attention to the visual and aural components of verse; the relation between technological and poetic innovation; the political significance of poetic form; the value of gender and sexuality as rubrics for the study of poetry; the turn toward historicism; the problem of the anthology in an age of canon expansion; the contemporary fascination with the production, circulation, and reception of material texts; and the unexpected revival of the charismatic authority of the poet-critic. Readings will concentrate on twentieth-century British and American poetry, but we will also be considering earlier poetries as well as poetries written in languages other than English.
“Seeming, seeming.” --- Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
If the antitheatrical prejudice took its cue from Plato, nowhere has the theater been more distrusted than in the theater itself, as in the history of canonical drama, with its unremitting vigilance over the deceits of appearance, from the blinded Oedipus to the blinded Gloucester to the blinded Hamm in Beckett, or with maximum theatricality in the Grand Brothel of Genet. As for those who prefer to avoid it, there is the closet drama of Mallarmé or Gertrude Stein, or the retreat by Yeats—after his founding of the Abbey Theater, disenchanted with it—to Lady Gregory’s drawing room and the ritual distancing of the Japanese Noh. As for the Alienation-effect of Brecht, with its unempathic way of keeping an eye on too much theater, that might have been appreciated by Ben Jonson, who with all the theatrical virtuosity of the scoundrels in his plays really preferred to see his drama published rather than distorted on the stage. If there is any defense of theater in the theater itself, you might expect that to come from Shakespeare, for whom all the world could be a stage, but with that Hamletic strain in his vision—at the extremity of paranoia in the play-within-the-play—it’s as if the subtext of his drama were an incrimination of theater. He speaks in one of his sonnets of the actor who, “with his fear, is put beside his part,” which may cause us to wonder, too, about an aesthetic form that seems, unavoidably, to require stage fright.
As for the other visual arts or alternative modes of performance, from the classical avant-garde through minimalism and conceptualism to happenings and body art, much of that has emerged from a derangement, derision, or suspicion of theater, which has carried over to critical theory, as in Judith Butler’s notion of “performativity,” which is itself a form of anti-theater. Before that, however, in the emergence of deconstruction, we had instances of theoretical writing that, with sentiments of anti-theater, thought of itself as performance, as with Roland Barthes, whose earliest work was Brechtian, which led him to the Japanese Bunraku, preferring puppets to actors, as if from a revisionist Marxism he were the prophetic Gordon Craig. And as we became aware of the stylistic theatricality in Lacan’s psyching out of “the mirror stage,” Derrida went from Freud and “the scene of writing” (the mise en scène of the unconscious) to Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty, and their mutual desire to abolish representation, and with it, outdoing Brecht, the theater as we know it. That’s a sad story attesting, as Derrida had to confess, to the endurance of representation, and through every assault of anti-theater, that of the theater as well, not that theater, however, but—now you see it now you don’t—what can hardly be known at all, what escapes as reality principle at the leading edge of thought. As far as we can in the seminar we’ll try engaging with that.
Readings (to be announced) will come from a wide range of sources, in canonical, modern, and experimental forms of drama, as well as documentation of alternative modes of performance; and there will also be various texts from critical theory.
This course introduces and explores theoretical debates concerning colonial and post-colonial cultures. Rather than take 'post-colonial' as an unproblematic term, the course addresses the intellectual, aesthetic and material stakes involved in its deployment, and situates the term in relation to earlier anti-colonial and liberationist formulations.
This course will provide students with a genealogy of the newly-expanding field of visual culture studies through a postcolonial optic. We will take as our point of departure the 1936 essays by Martin Heidegger and Walter Benjamin, on the function of art under modernity. These two foundational essays, written in the force field of the social and historical contradictions within Europe that were finding their expression in fascism and totalitarianism, articulated new and urgent questions about the relationship of technology to art, of aesthetics to politics, and of knowledge to representation. In this seminar we will explore the implications of this questioning for global visual culture. How is perception constituted by the serial nature of modern images? What are the relationships between materiality and the image, history and simulacra, power and looking? How must we rethink and revise notions of form, aesthetics, the picturesque, and the sublime in light of colonial and postcolonial visual culture? The aim here is not only to analyze the production of the “Western” gaze upon the “East,” but also to explore, in Rey Chow’s words, “the fact that the ‘East,’ too, is a spectator who is equally caught up in the dialectic of seeing.”
Critical Moments in Rhetoric and Composition Studies
“We have a moment,” began Kathleen Blake Yancey’s 2004 CCCC keynote address, to pause and rededicate ourselves to goals she presented as crucial to the future of rhetoric and composition studies. The crisis, as Yancey identified, is clear: to resist changes brought on by new technologies and discursive demands from outside the university is to court irrelevance. She left the audience with a call to action—to evaluate and revise existing curricula and programs, the least of which is a reconsideration of the way we even conceive of first-year writing. In defining a critical moment for the field, Yancey seized what she saw as a kairotic moment demanding collective action.
In just a few of its many meanings, the rhetorical concept of kairos can be understood as “right time” and opportunity. Kairos can also describe an urgent situation demanding decision. We’ll begin this course by getting acquainted with what this nuanced term meant in its ancient past and what it offers us now for theorizing the temporal dimensions of discursive action. We’ll do so by examining contemporary rhetorics of crisis and change within the field of rhetoric and composition studies and the role these play in shaping the field’s ethos. Several related questions will no doubt emerge from this inquiry, namely, What exactly is kairos, and if it means so many different things, can it retain any real theoretical or explanatory power? Since kairos demands decision-making of some kind, who or what authorizes judgment in rhetorical situations? Does kairos have any implications for pedagogy?
This course is an overview of language testing with an emphasis on teacher-prepared classroom tests. The major goals of the course are:
1. to provide students practice in developing, analyzing, and refining tests
2. to introduce students to key concepts and major debates in language testing
3. to provide students some experience with commercially available assessment tools
4. to familiarize students with basic test statistics so that they can test their own tests and understand the claims made about commercially available exams
In this graduate workshop, I’ll expect you to generate new work and take risks. As you do so, you should be developing a good sense of your own passions, obsessions, and fears as writers, as well as honing your critical abilities. We will use the Critical Response Process developed by Liz Lehrman as the basis for our workshop sessions, a method that focuses on questions rather than statements, questions from both the readers and the writer, and places the writer at the center of the discussion. Written work will include at least 40 pages of fiction, written responses on each other’s work, and a variety of grammar exercises.
Priorities for Graduate workshop registration—in the following order: First year MFA students in fiction; Second year MFA students in fiction; MFA students in poetry; other graduate students, with instructor’s permission only; others, with instructor’s permission only.
Graduate students in the MFA program will share and consider work--both that of the class participants and examples from the literature beyond the classroom. One poem (newly written or revised) will be expected each week. Class discussion will address rhetorical, grammatical, syntactical, and various other formal and structural relations among words in poems. One substantial individual conference per student is an important component of the class. Total portfolio of approximately 10 new or newly revised pieces per student, to be submitted at the end of the quarter.
Oral Tradition and Scribal Texts
Theorists of literacy and textuality often distinguish four main types of textual culture: (1) oral or "memory" culture, which has existed since antiquity and survives in some parts of the world to the present day; (2) early literary or "scribal" culture, emerging with the invention of writing; (3) "print culture," enabled by the power of the press; and, most recently, (4) the culture of "electronic texts" (or of "hypertext"), now expanding with the proliferation of texts and data on the Internet, among other technologies of mass communication. The present course is a component in a series of graduate seminars addressing these topics, and addressing theoretical and critical issues in Textual Studies generally. Individual sessions will involve a wide range of special presentations by guest lecturers from several institutions. The "Oral and Scribal Texts" seminar will mainly address the first two areas noted above, oral and scribal cultures, but this will nevertheless provide an opportunity to demonstrate some of the most recent uses of hypertext for the study of texts as well. Class discussion and several invited speakers will address the history of writing, manuscript illumination, and various cultural aspects of the ancient writing-hall (or scriptorium). The series has been developed by the campus-wide Textual Studies Intitiative, and all seminars are cross-listed among the offerings of English, Comparative Literature, and Center for the Humanities. Course credit may count toward the Critical Theory concentration in Comparative Literature.
Lord, Singer of Tales, 2nd ed. (2002)
Bischoff, Latin Paleography
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