Winter Quarter 2007 — Graduate Course Descriptions

502 (C LIT) CPhilosophy & Music (w/Music 575 & 576) Brown TTh 3:30-5:20

Music students should register for both Music 575 and Music 576; CLIT students
for CLIT 502C.

This seminar will explore the possibility of further cross-fertilization
between philosophy, critical theory, and musical thinking in music and in
music criticism. Readings from Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche,
Bloch, Adorno, Deleuze, and others in philosophy will be accompanied by
readings in recent music theory and criticism. Formal musical training not
required, but students should be familiar with Western musical traditions.

Members of the seminar are expected to participate actively throughout the
term, entering into discussions and perhaps occasionally preparing and leading a
discussion on some sub-topic of special interest to them.

A 5000-word essay will be required at the end of class.

508 Critical Methodology (w/CLit 508 & French 576) M 1:30-5:20

Critical Methodology

Basic scholarly tools of bibliography; historical review of literary doctrine; an introduction to critical methodology.

An introductory survey of some of the foundational texts of Western literary practice and theory from the middle ages and early modern periods. Texts will not be limited to "literary theory" per se (aesthetics, philosophy, poetics, etc.), but will include a range of texts influential in political, religious and scientific spheres. Thus, this class might better be categorised under the rubric of "History of Ideas". Particular attention will be given to humanism, as a category and as a movement. Authors include Machiavelli, Erasmus, Calvin and Luther, Descartes, Sidney, Bacon, Locke, Rousseau.

Class will be conducted in English. Students in French Studies should try to do readings of French authors in the original, where possible.

Small, seminar-style. Participation expected, and required to succeed. Students must prepare by doing assigned reading.

Class Assignments and Grading: Regular and active participation is expected of all students. There will be one oral presentation, one abstract (1-2 pages), one annotated bibliography (2 pages) and one final paper (10-15 pages). Students will also bring reading questions to class.

510 History of Literary Criticism & Theory IV (w/CLit 510) Benitez TTh 3:30-5:20

Introduction to Theory: Subjection and Subjectivity

The course description mandates that the class cover the history of literary criticism and theory since about 1965. This would be an impossible and problematic task. It is impossible because one does not have the time to cover all the different theoretical frameworks that have emerged in the second half of the 20th century in one quarter. It is problematic because the very concept of history itself and the knowledge and powers organized around claims of history were among the major issues motivating these theoretical debates. It is also problematic in designating Òabout 1965Ó as a cut-off date. The date and its modifier allude to an awareness of the structures that subtend academic inquiry and what we profess. Consequently, while we shall knowingly labor under this condition, we shall frame our explorations through the theme of subjection and subjectivity. The class then will provide an introduction to the major debates and currents in contemporary literary theory and shall do so through the exploration of specific theorists.


513 Old English: Beowulf Remley TTh 9:30-11:20

This is the second part of the two-part sequence in Old English Language and Literature, completion of which may serve to fulfill a graduate language requirement. In this seminar we will undertake a close reading of _Beowulf_, the most substantial surviving Old English poem, in the original language. Considerable attention will be paid to the most recent work in _Beowulf_ studies, notably Kevin S. Kiernan's revised edition (1996) of his controversial study of the original manuscript; feminist criticism on Wealtheow and other women figures in the poem; ideological background studies of the Germanic migrations; and archeological and more broadly cultural approaches to the contextualization of this refractory and, in many respects, enigmatic poem.


516 A14C Ms. Collections (w/Engl 498D) Coldewey MW 1:30-3:20

Writing the English Nation in the later Middle Ages

In the course of the fourteenth century, a number of important changes occurred that affected England’s conceptualization of itself as a nation. Following the Norman Conquest, England matured for a couple of centuries as a nation defined largely by the Latin of the Church and the Anglo-Norman of the aristocracy. During the 1300s, however, England began to move progressively further from its earlier standards, in language, culture, politics. Even before the onset of the century-long conflict with France (the Hundred Years’ War), a new concept of the English nation was being articulated in literary manuscripts and other documents.

This seminar will begin with texts in manuscript collections such as Harley MS 2253 (from the west country, ca. 1340) and the Auchinleck MS (produced in London in the 1340s). We will try to develop some appreciation of how they (differently) conceive of their English audience and address ‘national’ concerns at the beginning of the Hundred Years’ War.

Later in the seminar we will look to Piers Plowman and works of Chaucer to see what we can determine about the direction of change at the end of the fourteenth century. How do these works relate to those in the earlier collections and how do these writers establish a new sense of English-ness in and through their works.

Since many of the readings for the class will be in dialects of Middle English, participants should have good familiarity with at least Chaucer in the original. Requirements for the seminar will include close reading of selected texts in Middle English and in the critical and theoretical works relevant to the texts and the topics of the seminar. Since the seminar will be primarily one that depends on the interests and individual research projects of the participants, students will provide a few oral reports on their work and produce a substantial research paper at the end.

We will start our seminar with readings from Kathy Lavezzo’s Imagining a Medieval English Nation and from some additional materials I will distribute at the beginning of the seminar. Other required readings will be decided on at that time, selected in part as a result of particular research interests of participants.


516 BLove and the Social Bond in the Middle Ages Vance TTh 1:30-3:20

Love and the Social Bond in the Middle Ages

The goal of this course is to study the tension between individual erotic passion (whatever its form of expression) and the constraints of the family, feudal society, and religion.

We will address these questions by reading a selection of examples of works written between the 12th and 14th centuries: preceded by the Old Testament Song of Songs as a foundation for medieval understandings of desire. This will be followed by two stories of virgin martyrs, a selection of Provençal and French courtly lyric poems, one or two courtly romances, (Tristan and Iseut; Yvain, and/or the Knight of the Lion, by Chrétien de Troyes), Dante’s Vita Nuova, Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath’s Tale,” the “Pardoner’s Tale,” and an unusual spiritual love letter by St. Catherine of Siena.

All readings will be based on English translations, but students will be encouraged to read whatever writings they can in their original language.

Here are a few of the questions we will address:

What is the relationship between courtly desire and medieval misogyny?
What necessary link is there between sexual desire and sin?
How is homoerotic desire understood and expressed in medieval letters?
Can men and women of differing social ranks or classes properly love each other?
What is the relationship between courtly love and chivalric combat in medieval romance?
What are the social purposes of marriage in medieval society?
What are the consequences, real or imagined, of adultery in medieval literature?
What place does wealth have in courtly erotic desire?
Can there such a phenomenon as truly spiritual or sacred erotic desire?
Can men and women desire the Virgin Mary or the flesh of Christ?

Graduate students will be evaluated according to: their participation (30%), a brief oral presentation (10-15 min., 20%) and a final paper (50%)..

517 Pre-Renaissance Drama Coldewey TTh 3:30-5:20

In this course we will examine varieties of English drama written before and leading up to Shakespeare, including the complete Chester Cycle, a number of non-cycle plays, morality plays and Tudor interludes. We will formulate some ways of approaching these playtexts: as cultural markers, as expressions of civic identity, as spectacular performative ventures, as intellectual parents and children during eras of change, as contemplative texts for reading, and as really good plays.


527 Romanticism & Imagination (w/CLit 548A) Halmi MW 1:30-3:20

This course is offered in conjunction with the conference "Inventions of the Imagination: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Imaginary since Romanticism," which take place at the UW on 18-20 May 2007. Like the conference, the course aims to explore how the human imagination has been theorized from different perspectives--literary, philosophical, psychological, musical, etc.--from the end of the eighteenth century to the present. The final choice of readings will depend on the interests of those enrolled in the course, but will include texts concerned with non-literary arts and with contemporary scientific practices.

535 Theories & Representations of the State Cherniavsky W 3:30-7:20p

Theories and Representations of the State

“The state thinks the subject, too.”
– Wahneema Lubiano

The shifting fortunes of the nation-state in the contemporary moment have been a major critical preoccupation in recent American studies scholarship. Whatever else, it seems clear that the established, modern form of this hyphenated entity is in the process of significant transformation, or in other words, that the historical articulation of national sentiment to the apparatus of the state has eroded. Despite the residual, cynical reliance of official, state discourse on a nationalist tropology, nationalist identifications have arguably detached from the institutions of the territorial state, just as the operation of state power no longer depends on the effective mobilization of a national public. In attending to the break-up of the nation-state couple, American studies has proven far more attentive to the afterlives of nationalism than to the modalities of state power after nationalism. This course is constructed on the idea that a critical engagement with present transformations in the practices of state power, and its reproduction at the level of the social subject, benefits from reading broadly across theories and representations of the state, with an emphasis on marxist theory, Foucault and other power/knowledge thinkers, feminist theory, and critical understandings of the state that emerge from queer analytics and from race and ethnic studies.

A few key selections of classical political economy (e.g., Locke, Hobbes, Hume) will likely form the pre-text (or deep background/ recommended reading) for the class. Primary course materials will probably include GWF Hegel, Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, Rosa Luxembourg, Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, Michael Taussig, Nancy Fraser, Catherine MacKinnon, David Harvey, Doug Henwood, Wahneema Lubiano, Cindy Patton, Ruth Gilmore. Reading will also include a small selection of literary and popular cultural work that marks critical or theoretical interventions in questions of the state from within these different domains of representational practice: possible choices include Paul Beatty’s Tuff, Ana Castillo’s So Far From God, the SciFi channel series Battlestar Galactica. (I will be in touch with enrolled students towards the end of the fall term as I finalize the reading list. )

537 AMonumental and Insurgent Cities: History, Theory, Literature/Cinema (w/CLit 502B Kaup TTh 11:30-1:20

Monumental and Insurgent Cities: History, Theory, Literature/Cinema

A near-synonym of human civilization, the city has been the site and subject of cultural production since the beginning of history. The material embodiment of the society that designs and inhabits them, urban architecture and the built environment are expressions of the latter’s social ideals, even utopias. On the other hand (and from a Marxist perspective), the very structure of our modern capitalist cities, including its land-use and activity patterns, is the result of capital in pursuit of profit. (It is no accident that the skyscraper is an American invention, and that this American vernacular urban form was born in America’s nineteenth-century laissez-faire capitalist headquarters, Chicago.) In other words: we build our dreams, but our dreams may in turn be informed by a political unconscious structured by social forces, most recently, (late) capitalism. But this is only the monumental city, the concept-city of developers, architects, and planners. There is also the spontaneous, unplanned city of the everyday, the urban user, the insurgent city of a multitude of practices and new urban social movements that operate within the space of the official city.

This is a course combining readings in urban theory, the history of US planning, and fiction and cinema about the city. It includes a trans-american component that extends the conversation beyond the “American” city to the city in “the Americas” (via the examples of Havana and Mexico City), to discuss differences and commonalities in the history of planning in Latin America and the US, and also how US planning movements (esp. the City Beautiful) came to serve imperialist purposes after 1898. The genre of the “city novel” or “cinema on the city” is near-infinite, and we will be discussing a small corpus of representative works of literature & cinema. The main goal of the course, however, is to familiarize students with key movements & paradigms in the history and theory of urban planning in the US after the Civil War (ie. parks movement, tenement reform, company towns, the City Beautiful & City Practical movements, modernist utopias and their postmodern critiques etc.) which are actually situated at the intersection of material culture, social practices and representation.

Readings will be organized around the following sections: 1) Theory: the Official, Planned Concept-City vs. the Unplanned, Insurgent City; via Lefebvre’s Production of Space and his conceptual triad (Representations of Space, Representational Space, Spatial Practices), Jane Jacobs, Michel de Certeau, Leslie Sandercock; 2) Modernist Utopias and their Postmodern Critiques; via Le Corbusier, Jane Jacobs, and Robert Venturi; 3) Manieri-Ella, “Toward an Imperial City: Daniel H. Burnham and the City Beautiful Movement,” focusing on the examples of Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Havana; 4) Parks Movement (Frederick Law Olmsted, including the Parks Plan for Seattle) and Tenement Reform (selections from Riis, How the Other Half Lives); 5) Company Towns and the Reinvention of the US City by Latinos (excerpts from Mike Davis, Magical Urbanism) via Alejandro Morales’ The Brick People (1992); 6) America as Utopia and the Criticism of the Nineteenth-Century Laissez-Faire City; via Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward (1888); 7) The Noir of US Planning History; via Blade Runner and Mike Davis’ critiques of the official heroic narrative of US planning; 8) Mexico City: Chronicles of Everyday Life in the Latin American Metropolis; via Rubén Gallo (ed.), The Mexico City Reader (2004) and Angel Rama.

Assignments comprise a research paper, a mock article/book review, and a presentation on one of the readings.


537 BVisuality & Race Simpson TTh 1:30-3:20

As a way of organizing study on racialization, “visuality and racialization” is admittedly unwieldy. More often than not, it is taken to mean work that provides a simple or direct accounting of the impact of visual technologies on the narrative logics cohering racial difference. While this approach is arguably defensible, if not common, in this course we will try to avoid the pitfalls of historical determinism by emphasizing the dialectic between the early twentieth century proliferation of and fascination with visual forms and modernity’s ongoing tactics of racialization. Or, put another way, rather than trying to think early 20th century visuality and racialization as either a *new* instance of racialization impacted by a sudden incorporation or awareness of new visual technologies, or—just as reductive—to ignore the importance of visual shifts altogether, we will instead regard racial visibility as consonant with, but not entirely reducible to both the pressures and performances of race in new visual forms, as well as modernity’s racial formulations. In short, we will think visuality as a developing tactic of modernity, and the early 20th century as a point of a critical shift.

In the first couple of weeks, we will discuss a range of influential theorizations of the visual cultures and practices in the late 19th and early 20th century. We will try to grasp the organizing claims of this body of theoretical work before we move on to consider how more recent re-considerations of the significance of visuality have expanded or tested these theorizations. Many of these later works will help us to figure out how to emphasize a racial typology familiar from, but not reducible to, both 19th century cultural forms and late US modernist depthlessness. Because we cannot hope to exhaust the textual or literary effects of visuality-as-tactics in every instance, we will turn in the last few weeks of the quarter to focus on the specific (and famous) period of visual racialization in thirties US culture, including especially an attention to the pronounced connection between photographic, filmic and illustrative national projects focused on the figure of the racialized migrant or laborer and the development of various literary-cultural tableaus and narrativizations of the modern racial figure . Assignments in this course will include a collaborative (two person) presentation on a primary text; an annotated bibliography over the presentation; an abstract of the final essay; and a final, conference-length paper.

540 Woolf & the Bloomsbury Group Kaplan TTh 1:30-3:20

Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group

One of the issues of continuing controversy in modernist studies is the impact of the Bloomsbury Group on the writings of Virginia Woolf. “Bloomsbury”—a district of London near the British Museum—is also the popular moniker for a circle of a writers, artists, and critics who once lived there and who were at the center of intellectual life in England during the first few decades of the twentieth century. The seminar will read Woolf in the context of writings by a number of other members of the group, ( Lytton Strachey, Roger Fry, E.M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes, Clive Bell, and Leonard Woolf) which will allow us to consider her novels in relation to complementary issues in art, economics, politics, and philosophy. Since “Bloomsbury” has become almost too fashionable in recent years--as evidenced by the enormous number of articles and books written about it and the popularity of films either about its members (such as Carrington, and Tom and Viv) or based on their writing (such as Woolf’s Orlando, and the many filmed versions of Forster’s novels)—the seminar may also investigate the reasons for this current popular interest. It may also address the larger issue of the marketing of modernism itself and Bloomsbury’s role in that process. We will look at a considerable number and variety of texts by both members and opponents of the group and in so doing, explore the ways their interactions affected the development of British literary modernism.


540 BStudies in 20th Cenury Lit:Modernism (w/Clit 549) Staten MW 1:30-3:20

We will read a variety of poems and fictional works from France, Germany, England, and the U.S. in order to get a sense of the complex phenomenon called “modernism,” a style or cluster of styles of writing that flourished from roughly 1910-1930. There is no simple definition of what this term means; like other period terms in literary theory (cf. “romanticism” or “realism”), it refers not to any single quality of literary works but to a diverse set of stylistic characteristics, any of which might be missing from any given work referred to as modernist. Thus the only way to get a sense of how the term works is to read a number of texts that are labeled with it and see how they are similar and how they are different.

We will also be concerned with the /methodology/ of the study of literature and specifically with the method called /formalism. /Formalism in criticism developed in close contact with modernism in literature (for example, T.S. Eliot is both one of the central modernist poets and one of the fathers of formalism) and could this be called “modernist criticism.” In my class lectures I will continually stress formalist methods of reading, and in the papers you write you will be expected to develop skill in these methods.

We will spend the first half of the course reading the work of three poets (Baudelaire, Rilke, and Eliot) the second half works by three fiction writers (Kafka, Woolf, Gide).

556 Cultural Politics of the Emotions (w/CLit 535C) Woodward MW 1:30-3:20

The Cultural Politics of the Emotions: Theories, Practices, Rhetorics, Poetics

This seminar proceeds from the assumption that studying the theorization, rhetorics, and expression of the emotions is itself a study in the politics and values of a culture. In the West, for instance, the emotions have been figured predominantly as feminine and in opposition to reason, with reason (or rationality) being accorded the higher value. This course will examine this implicit ideology of the emotions and will explore emotions themselves as a source of knowledge. That the emotions do not only vary from culture to culture but also have histories within cultures are guiding suppositions. That there can be a cultural poetics of the emotions is also key to this course.

The first three weeks of the course will be devoted to material on the emotions from anthropology, social and cultural theory, philosophy, sociology, history, and psychoanalysis that will serve as a crossdisciplinary introduction to the themes of the course as well as to the methodology of a phenomenology of the emotions. We will read work from anthropologists Michelle Rosaldo, Catherine Lutz, and Emily Martin; philosophers Alison Jaggar, Richard Rorty, Martha Nussbaum, and Elizabeth Spellman; historian Peter Stearns; sociologist Arlie Hochschild; and social and cultural theorists Raymond Williams, Fredric Jameson, Brian Massumi, and Sara Ahmed. We will also read some key work on the emotions from psychoanalysis, including Freud, Julia Kristeva, and Christopher Bollas.
Other sections of the course will be dedicated to specific emotions (or affects and sensations): shame (with a focus on raciality); sentimentality and compassion in literary studies; grief (in the context of loss and diasporic emotions); and structures of affect in modernity and postmodernity, including the media and the neoliberalism of global culture. Texts include Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye (1970); excerpts from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852); Milan Kundera’s novel Ignorance (2002); Korean-born Deann Borshay’s film First Person Plural (2000), about her adoption by an American family, and Yvonne Rainer’s film (and its transcription) Murder and murder (1997), about the power of statistics in our everyday lives. In addition we will read work by literary and cultural critics Jane Tompkins, Lauren Berlant, Saidiya Hartman, David Eng, and Eve Sedgwick as well as work by feminist Berenice Fisher and media theorist Patricia Mellencamp. Last spring I finished the introduction and epilogue to my book on the cultural politics of the emotions and I will be including that in the readings for the course as well.

In addition to contributing fully to the course in terms of reading and engaged discussion, I will be asking everyone to participate in a group project that will focus on a particular emotion (one not discussed in class) and result in a collective bibliography (both in terms of critical texts and expressive texts); it will be presented to the class in mid-February. Each student will also make at least one short (very short) presentation to the class—a description of the approach and methodology of a critical essay or chapter. Every week we will also devote a short period of time to discussing rhetorics of the emotions as they appear in selected sections of the New York Times. A twenty-page essay will be due at the end of the quarter.

A Note on Distinctions: We will want to make distinctions among the passions, emotions, sensations, and moods. We can distinguish families of emotions, organized according to different structuring principles: rage, anger, and irritation; terror, panic, fear, anxiety, depression, and indifference; gratitude and envy, compassion and resentment; nostalgia and hope; aesthetic emotions, such as the sublime; nationalist emotions, such as patriotism; humiliation, shame, guilt, embarrassment, and self-disgust; happiness, joy, and ecstasy; grief, sorrow, and regret; religious emotions, including piety; what I have called the bureaucratic emotions, including bureaucratic depression and bureaucratic paranoia; and what I have called postmodern affects, such as statistical panic. We will also want to pay attention to the sequencing of emotions, or what might be called narratives of emotions.

564 Current Rhetorical Theory Dillon MW 3:30-5:20

Visual Rhetoric

Beginning with the basic theory of rhetoric drawn from Perelman and Olbrects-Tyteca's New Rhetoric, we will extend it to writing which combines image, text, and sometimes sound (“imagetext”). Such writing has long been a staple of advertising, network news, and propaganda, but our focus will be on its use in making arguments and addressing issues in the public sphere. Guiding questions include:
--What are the strengths and limitations of such writing?
--Are the signifiers slipperier in multimodal writing?
--How can we teach it, respond to it, grade it?
--How to describe the arrangement of parts in multimodal writing? Is juxtaposition enough?
--What is the rhetoric of bullet points? Of PowerPoints™? Of sans-serif fonts?
In addition to readings from the texts listed above, seminar members should plan some time for serious on-line viewing and reviewing. Paper topics may discuss a point of theory or a pedagogical issue or issues about writing multimodally.


569 Language and Gender Moore TTh 1:30-3:20

Language and Gender

This course examines theoretical and linguistic approaches to the study of language, gender and sexuality. We will discuss research on sex-linked patterns of language acquisition, gender differences in communicative and discourse strategies, and the dynamics of gender and power in public discourse. We will also examine the history of feminist and sociolinguistic perceptions of "women's language," "men's language," and "queer language" in speech communities, and consider the ways that scholarly models for approaching gender and language have changed.

570 Practicum in TESOL Brenner F 10:30-12:20

Catalog Description: Discussion and practice of second-language teaching techniques. Three hours per week teaching required in addition to regular class meetings. Credit/no credit only.

574 Research Methods in Second Language Acquisition Wennerstrom TTh 1:30-3:20

This course is intended to improve your understanding of the research
process, to familiarize you with a variety of methods of research
commonly used in the field of TESOL and Applied Linguistics, and to
provide basic, practical skills in designing, carrying out, and
reporting on a research project. The course will focus on a variety of
research models, including survey research, discourse analysis, case
study, corpus research, experimental research, and ethnography. Student
groups will conduct original research projects. In addition, you will
read and critique selected research in second language acquisition.

576 Testing & Evaluation of English as a Second Language Silberstein TTh 10:30-12:20

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.

581 Creative Writer as Critical Reader Shields MW 1:30-3:20

In this course we’ll watch several self-reflexive documentary films, read dozens of theoretical, personal, and lyric essays, and think and talk and write about the relation of artists to their material: how to locate it, frame it, and catalyze it. Much discussion, one long paper.

584 Advanced Fiction Workshop Bosworth W 3:30-7:20p

An intensive prose workshop for MFA fiction students. 12 maximum.

585 Advanced Poetry Workshop McHugh M 3:30-7:20p

This graduate poetry workshop requires students to submit one poem per week as the quarter progresses, and then to assemble the quarter's work into a final portfolio to be submitted on the day of the last class meeting. This portfolio may contain all first drafts but must contain all final drafts. Not all poems will be discussed in class. Professor will bring in topics and texts for study, as suggested by the poems produced by students. Students will be expected to 1) attend regularly 2) contribute to discussions (being, as Larkin says of talking in bed, "not untrue and not unkind").

593 Printed Texts (w/Clit 596B & Hum 522) Lockwood MW 11:30-1:20

This is one of the four required core seminars in the graduate Textual Studies Program (others are Oral and Manuscript Texts, Hypertext, and Textual Theory). It gives an introduction to the history of printing as an art and a means of textual transmission, as well as a practical view of hand and machine press printing. The seminar includes introductory surveys of such topics as descriptive and analytical bibliography; the production, transmission, and editing of printed texts; history of the book; and contemporary textual and editorial theory. Students will also get practical experience in the editing of printed texts. Some seminar sessions will be held in Suzzallo Special Collections in order to provide first-hand access to examples of early modern print and book history. The professor himself is in the middle of a massive three-volume editorial project on Henry Fielding for Oxford Press, and seminar students will also get a possibly frightening inside view of the messy workings of such a project.

Students will undertake two group projects and a critical paper. There will also be a field trip to the Thorniley Collection of early printing press technology at the West Coast Paper Co., where everybody gets a shot at operating a hand press. Keep your fingers out of the way.

599 Augustine & the Western Literary Mind (w/Rel 590 & Clit 596C) Vance W 1:30-4:20

St. Augustine and the Western Literary Mind
Instructor: Eugene Vance, Prof. of French, Comp. Literature and Comp. Religion.
(Eng 599a, CL596c, FR590, REL 590. Wed. 1:30-4:30)

The greatest writer of early Christian culture in the Latin West was St. Augustine (354-530, C.E.). More than any other single writer, he laid the cultural foundations for vernacular literature and critical thought that endure even now. As he rewrote the legacies of the Greek and Latin classics, Augustine pursued an ongoing search to understand and express the meaning of the created world and its history, and to relate it to the dynamics of individual selfhood. He constantly draws his readers, too, into his search for personal form and meaning.

From the middle ages to modern times, every successive major phase of European religious, scientific, and literary culture has had to reckon with some aspect of Augustine’s thought, which was never “merely” theological. Rather, it was radically experimental—and, just as often, problematical and disturbing, even in his mind. Augustine was his own harshest critic.

Why are all humans born sinners? If humans are predestined, how can they have free will? Why is sexual desire evil? Can humans know even themselves or each other? or can they love anything that they cannot know? What is the value of human art? What is the relation between language and the mind? What “is” time? What is the structure of the human soul and what is its place the whole of created being? Can impossible things truly happen? And how will it all end?

The Confessions will serve as a center-piece of this seminar, which we will then situate in the context of other of his writings that, together, have sustained Augustinianism as a catalyst of self-contradicting renewal in western religion, literature and critical thought.

Each participant will be invited to identify and develop, according to some disciplinary perspective, a specific dimension of Augustine’s writings that directly or indirectly shaped the beliefs, literary practices and critical doctrines of their chosen field, author or national culture.

Students will be evaluated according to their ongoing participation in the discussion (20%), an oral presentation of their chosen topic (30%) and on a final paper (50%).

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