(Descriptions last updated: February 11, 2001)
Beowulf. In this course we will be reading the Old English Beowulf in as wide a context as we can retrieve. We will be reading it in translation, of course. But not only will we be comparing translations on occasions, we’ll be doing just a bit of the original Old English as well. We’ll be looking at some of the supposed ancestors and cousins of the poem, at early medieval attitudes toward monsters, at the social/political environment that the poet presumably lived in, at the manuscript in which Beowulf is contained. This course is a seminar, so that presumes a certain amount of participation—discussion and report-making, or whatever we decide is worth doing. There will be some written work to do, too, of course. But the number of papers and their length are open for negotiation. So. If you’re interested in old timey heroes, monster lore, unpronounceable names, and hard history, you should have a good time. An interest in the glorious miseries, miserable glories of the human condition will be a great help. Text: Heaney, tr., Beowulf: A New Verse Translation.
City Folks: Urbanization and Identity. What happens to American culture and identity when the majority of the population migrates to the city? This is the primary question we'll explore in this class, as we look at literary, sociological, and political narratives of urbanization during the peak time of urban migration: 1880-1930. I'm interested in examining the various ways the "city" impacts not only the geographical landscape but also notions of American personhood in this era. Requirements: Active, intelligent class participation; a class presentation; response papers; 15 page seminar paper. Texts: Frank Norris, McTeague; William Dean Howells, A Modern Instance; Henry James, The Bostonians; Anzia Yezierska, Salome of the Tenaments; Claude McKay, Home to Harlem; Edith Wharton, House of Mirth.
American Civility. In the American literary tradition, the “land of the free, home of the brave” often figures as an untamed wilderness—the untainted territory of “natural man.” And, alternately, American writers have imagined their nation as a model society of republican virtue, peopled by democratically cultured citizens. Through our readings of course texts we will examine writers’ responses to social movements and historical conditions that have contributed to changing conceptions of the “nature” and culture of the American people. We will investigate early Americans’ fascination with imagery of vast untamed lands full of rustic pioneers and Indians, and then ask how later writers’ responses to such institutions and conditions as American slavery, immigration, class unrest, gender inequality, and racial tensions revisit and revise powerful ideologies that produced Americans and American national identity. This is a discussion course—your active participation is key. Texts: Zitkala-Sa, ed., American Indian Stories; Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Ellison, Invisible Man; James, Daisy Miller; Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes; Gilman, Herland; Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets.
Race and America. Here we explore race as a central fact of American life and its literary expression. Readings range from the 19th-century Huckleberry Finn to the contemporary Meena Alexander. We will look at the controversies surrounding Twain’s classic, race and the color line as seen by DuBois at the beginning of the last century, and briefly how those problems have played out down to the present. You will be encouraged to bring your own experience of life to bear on the topic as we trace the often tenuous-seeming links between “literature” and “life.” Two papers and one class presentation. Texts:Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn; W.E.B. DuBois, Writings: The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade, The Souls of Black Folk, Dusk of Dawn, Essays, Articles from the Crisis; Nella Larsen, Quicksand and Passing; Carlos Bulosan, America is in the Heart; Meena Alexander, The Shock of Arrival: Reflections on Postcolonial Experience; Manhattan Music.
Madness in Women’s Writing. Constructions of madness as “the female malady” (Elaine Showalter) in 19th and 20th-century women’s writing. Women’s continuing interest in insanity and mental illness derives from their insight into cultural associations of femininity with irrationality in Western thought. The course traces the shift of the figure of the madwoman from the margins to the center of women’s narratives: from the 19th-century formation of “the madwoman in the attic” (Gilbert/Gubar) the duality of the sane Victorian heroine and her “mad double” (Jane Eyre) through modernism (Mrs. Dalloway) to “mad heroines” in confessional and experiential narratives of the 60s and beyond (Plath, Rhys, Morrison) and to new developments towards “visionary madness” and the reinterpretation of madness as “spiritual quest” (not breakdown, but renewal) (Atwood, Head). Texts: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; Charlotte Perkins Gillman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”; Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway; Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar; Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea; Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye; Margaret Atwood, Surfacing; Bessie Head, A Question of Power.
Loving/Hating/Reading/Fiction. This is a seminar in the weird pleasures, wild emotions, and secret seductions of reading fiction. How, exactly, to we “take in” fiction? How much control does the author have over how the reader feels while reading? Do we read differently when we’re reading across gender or sexuality or ethnicity? Why do some readers choose puzzle novels while others prefer love stories? Can we love novels if they are about things we hate? How do films “read” stories differently from books? Do we identify with characters who seem in many ways to be our opposites? We’ll read modern and contemporary fictions to try to get some tentative answers to these questions. Discussion will be at the heart of what we do, so come expecting lots of talk and lively differences of opinion. Texts: Bernard Schlink, The Reader; Italo Calvino, If On a Winter's Night a Traveler; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; Michael Cunningham, The Hours; Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark; Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body.
1898: Sexuality, Race, Nation and Novelty. This seminar will examine shifts in the concept, purposes, and form of the U.S. “novel” at the turn of the twentieth century. We will be concerned to establish both the coherence and permeability of three enduring modern notions— “sex,” “race,” and “nation”— by which novels are written, organized and read within a historical context that includes the invention of the “ modern homosexual,” the ascendance of U.S. imperialism, mass migrations and industrial urbanization. Training our focus on the effects of these “contexts” on the novel genre in and around 1898 the course will endeavor finally to help students of literature think through the connections between literary periodization, aesthetics, and politics. Primary texts will include a selection of U.S. novels (and some from the Philippines and the circum-Caribbean) from the sub-genres of realism, naturalism, and modernism. Secondary readings will be culled from Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach (ed.) Michael McKeon and Marxism and Literature by Raymond Williams.
TTh 7-8:50 pm
Shakespeare: Some Major Tragedies. Close reading and discussion of four of Shakespeare’s major tragedies: Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra. Members of the class will be asked to write a one-page “response” paper for each class, and a term paper (minimum 15, maximum 20 pages) either on another Shakespearean tragedy (with some attention to the history of staging or of critical opinion) or on “tragedy” in general (based either on two or more plays of Shakespeare, at least one not discussed in class, or on a comparison between a play of Shakespeare and a Greek or modern tragedy). Evening Degree students only, Registration Period 1. Texts: Shakespeare, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra.
James Joyce. This quarter we will examine the works of James Joyce leading up to and including Ulysses. Our course work will center around a close reading of the major texts, but we also will consider the historical, social, and political context of his time. In addition to the primary reading, we will address related topics of importance: the question of high literary Modernism verse the modernisms of alterity, the realist novel versus the avant-garde text, Joyce's politics with regard to Home Rule, and various critica. approaches to reading literature.
Wayward Girls, Wandering Women. This class will explore the literary trope of the "fallen woman" across various historical and cultural registers, from her appearance in the first American novel to the American modernist representation of the "wandering" woman. We'll look at sociological, political, and medical discourse about the "woman problem" in order to consider what cultural anxiety is attendant upon female sexual, geographical, and socioeconomic mobility. This course includes a rigorous reading list and requires daily active participation, along with a seminar paper and response papers. Texts: Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets; Hannah Foster, The Coquette; Pauline Hopkins, Contending Forces; Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth; Henry James, Daisy Miller; Gertrude Stein, Three Lives.
Irish Culture and the Plays of Brian Friel. Brian Friel may be the most prominent Irish playwright of the end of the twentieth century. This seminar will read and discuss his plays as they examine and represent some of the major themes of Irish culture: language, exile, history, politics,. Students will present weekly short papers, an oral report, and a term paper. Texts: Friel, Selected Plays; Plays 2; Essays, Diaries, Interviews, 1966-1998; Jones, Brian Friel; Maxwell, Brian Friel.
The Sublime Experience: Subject and Perceiver. The sublime is an important touchstone concept for understanding changes in emotional and artistic sensibility which were taking place at the end of the eighteenth century in England, and for providing context for the reactions in the century that followed. In this course, we will begin with a philosophical examination of the sublime in the works of Kant and Burke, but we will quickly move on to artistic representations of the sublime in visual art, poetry and prose. As we move through the nineteenth century, our central questions will be, what place does the sublime have in conventional, respectable Victorian society? And what happens when the sublime, usually manifested by scenes of nature, is instead manifested in a human being? Through this examination of the sublime, we will address such issues as gender difference, religion, and social relations in a developing industrial/capitalist society. Texts: Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus; Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights; Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.
Male Masochism in Victorian Literature and Culture. Students of Victorian literature and culture have come to know the conventional gender norms of the period. In The Subjection of Women John Stuart Mill cogently describes them in a discussion of Victorian educational practices. Mill critiques a system of education in which women "are universally taught that they are born and created for self-sacrifice," producing "an exaggerated self-abnegation." Men, by contrast, are taught "to worship their own will as such a grand thing," learning "self-worship." Mill searches for the self-assertion achieved by feminine self-abnegating postures. For example, he suggests that through "moral influence" women can become "potent auxiliaries to virtue" that greatly account for "two of the most marked features of modern European life -- its aversion to war, and its addiction to philanthropy." Like Mill, modern feminist scholars have sought to understand Victorian women as more than self-abnegating victims of patriarchal oppression. In recent scholarship Victorian women often appear as social actors who manipulate the structures of patriarchy in ways that offer possibilities of agency and empowerment. Less focus has been given to the other side of Mill's story -- the self-abnegation that may inhere in grandly self-willed Victorian masculinity. If Victorian women used postures of self-sacrifice – even extending to masochism -- to hide their proscribed self-assertion, did Victorian men, conversely, conceal within their assertive postures self-sacrifice, self-abnegation, and a masochism of their own? This seminar will explore this question with reference to a range of Victorian cultural materials: political tracts, poetry, novels, pornography, letters. We'll begin with Thomas Carlyle's concept of "Hero-worship" as solution to the "Condition of England" question. Then we'll read Tennyson's monumental, pain-driven poem In Memoriam as response to the Victorian "Crisis of Faith." We'll turn next to two novels -- Dickens' Great Expectations and Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs -- both of which theorize male masochism as it develops in relation to idealized femininity, mid-Victorian gender norms, and codes of gentility. Swinburne's poetry will provide occasion for close textual reading as well as entry into the often brutalizing world of the all-male English public school. We'll conclude with Wilde's letter De Profundis, written from prison to his lover Bosie. These primary texts will be supplemented by additional critical, historical, and theoretical readings, some lecture, and possible in-class screenings of film adaptations. Course requirements are active participation in discussions, a class presentation (with follow-up 5-6 pp. essay), and a longer (8-10 pp.) final essay. Texts: Carlyle, Past and Present; Tennyson, In Memoriam; Dickens, Great Expectations; Wilde, The Portable Oscar Wilde; Deleuze, Masochism.
Domesticity, Sexual Purity, and Other Gendered Concerns in Late 19th-Century International Discourse. This quarter we will be reading a wide variety of primary and secondary texts concerned with who the “modern” woman is, how she is cultivated, how she should act, and of course, how she should NOT act. In particular, late-19th-century emerging distinctions between “properly domestic” and “morally licentious” women will be explored. While our readings will emerge from such distinct geographical sites as Puerto Rico, China, India, Britain, Russia, and Kenya, we will begin to see how colonialism, imperialism, modernity, and other globalizing forces during the nineteenth century created surprising relationships between men and women of ostensibly “different” backgrounds. This is a reading-intensive and discussion-oriented class.
American Ethnic Fiction and Rememory. This seminar is a comparative study of recent American ethnic fiction and rememory—a term coined by Toni Morrison to describe the method of constructing identity and accessing agency by confronting and reclaiming painful experiences from the past in order to locate one’s place in regards to family, community, group, and nation. In addition to novels, expect a rigorous reading schedule, including critical essays and historical texts. Texts: Toni Morrison, Beloved; Ana Castillo, So Far From God; Paule Marshall, Praisesong for the Widow; Linda Hogan, Mean Spirit; Julia Alvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies; Fae Myenne Ng, Bone; Jhumpa Lahiri, ed., Interpreter of Maladies.
Ravishing Reads--Textual Pleasures, Pains, and Reading Practices in Our Time.
"The way we read now, when we are alone with ourselves, retains considerable continuity with the past, however it is performed in the academis. . . . To read human sentiments in human language, you must be able to read humanly, with all of you." --Harold Bloom, How to Read and Why
In this class, you will investigate what Harold Bloom means by “all of you,” academically as well as non-academically, professionally as well as personally. Throughout your research, you will decide whether you agree with him and whether you believe that the “you” of our time is in fact different from the “you” of past times--before the digital revolution. Ours is a class that will explore ways of reading as well as the pleasures and pains of the reading experience—intellectual, imaginative, and sensual. Why? Because some assume that the act of reading refers to eyes scanning hard copy print, with little regard to the larger realm of the senses and aspects of the self. Others believe that the notion of isolated reading is erroneous, too narrow a reading regimen that eliminates community, restricts the imagination, and ignores altogether readers’ multi-sensory perceptions and potential pleasures of textual engagement. In our course, we will analyze these academic and popular notions of reading, as well as Bloom’s and other scholars' theories of reading. We will them against our readings, in and outside of the academic classroom. Course texts include conventionally bound books, audio and videotapes, and hyperlinked literature. Course methods include summarizing and investigating our findings. We will conduct many of our discussions and much of our research not just alone and in print, but face to face and online. Course requirements include an interest in reading and theorizing about reading practices, exploring your own and others’ reading practices and preferences; writing about reading; questioning theories of reading (your own as well as others’, past and present); reflecting upon your reading habits and prejudices; and diving deeply into the Internet, with the goal of mining it for factual gain rather than surfing it for commercial loss. Please note: Although a good deal of our class time will be spent online, this is not a distance-learning course: you need to be able to attend class regularly in the English Department’s computer-integrated classrooms in Mary Gates Hall, where much of the human as well as computer interaction of our studies will take place. Texts: Sven Birkirts, The Gutenberg Elegies; Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler; Sven Birkirts, ed., Tolstoy's Dictaphone : Technology and the Muse; course packet of critical and theoretical articles, and other creative writings.
MW 7-8:50 pm
Nineteenth-Century American Literature: Alternative Images of the Nation. We’ll begin by studying efforts to create mainstream, middle-class models of nineteenth-century American life: safely stereotypic visions of national culture and experience promoted through popular "fireside poetry," Currier and Ives engravings, and other art forms. Then we’ll explore, in dramatic contrast, a series of literary texts in which the meaning of America is hazarded into an agitated interplay of perspectives, in which voices excluded from the official cultural mainstream are attended to, and in which otherwise neglected aspects of the historical moment are granted visibility. We’ll be studying the battle between stereotype and underlying social complexity, between the official cultural mainstream and what it would exile to its margins, as this battle is fought in novels and biographies, poems and tales. Readings in Douglass, Fuller, Whittier, Whitman, Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorne, Rebecca Harding Davis, Chopin, and Crane.
"Other" Representations of World War II. The lore and legacy that constitute the national memory of World War II is so familiar that it hardly needs mention. Even as Americans approach the 21st century and a "war against terror," the events and crises of World War II remain important to cohering and validating the current declared mission of the US. In this course we will explore the making of the legacy of World War II from an often-neglected location, that of ethnic or racialized Others living in the US, whether national or heroic subjects or not. We will read or view a wide range of primary works from and about the period of World War II, as well as turning our attention to the contemporary recycling of World War II in the wake of the events of September 11. The materials we will cover will include novels, short stories, jourrnalistic accounts, films and histories. (The textbooks listed below will be supplemented with a course readings packet.) What we hope is to gain a better understanding of the myriad ways in which that war has been recorded, remembered, and re-imagined. Students taking this seminar should be aware that it is structured as an interdisciplinary, team-taught course. Our class will meet with a senior-level history class enrolled with Professor Susan Glenn from the History department. Professor Glenn and I welcome, in particular, those students interested in thinking and writing across disciplinary lines. Texts: Plenberg, War and Society; Okubo, Citizen 13660; Himes, If He Hollers, Let Him Go; Spiegelman, Maus, Vol. 1; Hersey, Hiroshima; Mailer, The Naked and the Dead; photocopied course packet.
Literature and Myth. In this course, students will study transmissions and transformations of myth through literature. Using various critical approaches as tools, we will explore literary uses of myth by tracing the transmission of particular myths from "original" sources to a later adaptation, and examine how the meaning of a myth can shift according to the context in which it occurs. During the first three weeks of the quarter students will become familiar with various critical and methodological approaches used in the literary analysis of myth, begin to plan their individual projects, and develop course proposals. Students are free to choose their primary text from any literary period that interests them, and their mythic sources from any culture. Subsequent weeks will be devoted to class presentations and discussions of each project, and pursuit of research. Students should be interested in the intersections of literature and myth, familiar with the mythology of at least one culture and have some familiarity with literary or anthropological critical theory. Each student will pursue his or her own research project during the quarter, and turn in a 20-page paper at the end of the quarter. Grades are based upon successful completion of individual research projects. Text: photocopied course packet.
Colonial and Post Colonial Writers and Writing from the Archipelago and the Continent. This course will look at Philippine writing under colonialism (Spain, United States) and after with side trips to the cosmopolitan center with Philippine-American writers. Texts: Jose Rizal, Noli me tangere; N. V. M. Gonzalez, A Season of Grace; Work on the Mountain; Carlos Bulosan, America is in the Heart; F. Sionil Jose, Dusk; Jessica Haggedorn, Dogeaters; Peter Bacho, Cebu.
Classrooms, Lunchrooms, and Playgrounds -- Contemporary Discussions on American Education and Race. This interdisciplinary seminar will bring together a wide variety of texts in order to further our understanding about two interrelated processes: the racial dimensions of contemporary education, and how we as contemporary subjects are educated into a racial logic. Our discussion-oriented seminar will focus on both social history and literature. Texts: Ann Arnett Ferguson, Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity; Cameron & McCarthy, eds., Race, Identity and Representation in Education; Theresa Perry, ed., The Real Ebonics Debate: Power, Language, and the Education of African American Children; Beverly Daniel Tatem, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations about Race; Shawn Wong, American Knees; Gillian & Gillian, Growing Up Ethnic in America: Contemporary Fiction about Learning to be American.
Contracts of the Heart: Sacrifice, Gift Economy and Literary Exchange in Coleridge and Wordsworth. In this seminar we will study the literary relationship of Coleridge and Wordsworth who, as one critic remarked, “not only pervasively influenced one another, but did so in a way that challenges ordinary methods of assessments.” We will explore the possibility of deriving from theories of gift exchange and sacrifice a new model of literary influence that would shed light on this remarkably intimate and deeply conflicted relationship.
We will spend the first four weeks of the quarter studying theories of gift exchange and sacrifice as proposed, among others, by Marcel Mauss, Marshall Sahlins, Georg Simmel, Lewis Hyde and Pierre Bourdieu (on the gift); and by Sigmund Freud, Henri Hubert and Marcel Mauss, René Girard and Georges Bataille (on sacrifice). The next six weeks will be devoted to the study of major poems by Coleridge and Wordsworth in chronological order, showing how the two poets, while desiring to imitate each other, find themselves competing for the same themes and appropriating each other’s subjects. Thus, while early Coleridge wrote successful nature poetry and Wordsworth portrayed moving stories of human suffering in a supernatural setting, after their collaboration on the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth turned to the philosophy of the mind’s relationship with nature, while Coleridge started to explore the effects of supernaturalism on the psyche.
Such moments of merging and separation can be profitably viewed through the lens of gift exchange and sacrifice. The gift, for example, generates a number of paradoxes that are relevant to the relationship between Coleridge and Wordsworth, being at once an altruistic model of social interaction, placing value on human bonds above economic or private interests, while at the same time remaining embedded in a self-interested power structure. Gift exchange often secures the privileged position of the donor at the expense of receivers and yet, as Mauss showed, receivers seem to retain “a sort of proprietary right” over everything that belongs to the donor. The gift thus generates the obfuscation of ownership rights and an erasure of the differences between donors and beneficiaries. We will see how Wordsworth and Coleridge, while collaborating early on a single unauthored volume (Lyrical Ballads) and wanting to write the same poem (“The Wanderings of Cain,” “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”), found themselves increasingly asserting “proprietary rights” over the stock of inventions which they initially passed on to each other according to the law of the gift. Wordsworth continued to use Coleridge’s ideas but tried hard to displace Coleridge as a gift-giving source, turning to nature or his private fund of “possessions,” to “Something within, which yet is shared by none” (“Home at Grasmere”). Assignments: A long paper (10-16 pp.), written in two stages and subject to revision; bi-weekly comments on assigned readings; a final exam. Texts: Marcel Mauss, The Gift; Rene Girard, Violence and the Sacred; S. T. Coleridge, Selected Poetry (ed. Beer); Biographia Literaria (ed. Leask); Wordsworth, Selected Poetry (ed. Roe).
Plantation Hollywood. This course will explore the representation of slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction in film and literature. We will start with the question why two of the most important American films – Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind – are about the war between North and South, the conflict that Lincoln described as “a house divided.” In order to answer this question, we will look at a series of 19th-century literary texts written after the Civil War that attempted to heal the geographical, social, and racial divisions that emerged in Reconstruction. These texts will also create the context for the 20th-century films like Birth of a Nation and Shirley Temple’s The Little Colonel that served to rewrite slavery and the Civil War in ways that help us understand how the South might have lost the Civil War but won the ideological battle of Reconstruction. In addition to these films, we look at more recent films like Glory, Sommersby, and the popular Ken Burns documentary on the Civil War. Literary texts include Albion Tourgee, Fool’s Errand, William de Forest, Miss Ravenal’s Conversion; Lydia Maria Child, Romance of the Republic; Elizabeth Keckley, Behind the Scenes; Charles Chestnutt, The Conjure Woman; Frances Harper, Iola Leroy.
Electronic Literature. We'll be looking at "classic" and recent examples of fiction, poetry and other literary genres that are being written specifically for reading/viewing/listening on a computer. We'll start with a selection of late 80s/early 90s hypertext fictions--probably Michael Joyce, "afternoon, a story"; Stuart Moulthrop, "Victory Garden"; and Shelley Jackson, "A Patchwork Girl." We'll go on to look at samples of recent, exciting online works by people such as Mark Amerika, Claire Dinsmore, Robert Kendal, Jennifer Ley, and Jim Rosenberg. We'll be reading these assorted works in dialogue with some essays on e-textuality by the likes of John Cayley, Donna Haraway, and George Landow. Important note: No prior knowledge of computers is required. This is strictly a literature class, not a programming course. All that you need is a sense of adventure.
British Writing in the 1920s. This seminar will explore British writing during the 1920s. The class will read a variety of works from this
decade, ranging from its most famous (and difficult) poem, The Waste Land, to one of its favorite examples of popular fiction, The Inimitable Jeeves. We’ll read fiction by Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, and Aldous Huxley, as well as two notorious novels (both of them banned by the censors): D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Radcliffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness. In addition, each student will be assigned a “lost” or neglected book written during this decade as the focus for individual research and writing. Course requirements include active participation in class discussion, library research assignments, oral reports, short and longer papers, and a final examination.
Added after Time Schedule printed. See on-line Time Schedule for sln.
Visions and Revisions. In this seminar we’ll explore modern revisions of four classic texts of the Western canon – Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Brontë’s Jane Eyre; Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In addition to the four works, we’ll read revisions produced by advocates for colonial and postcolonial cultures in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the cultures of the African diaspora. Readings from postcolonial and feminist criticism will also accompany our discussion of the social, political and interpretive controversies these works have generated. Meets with C LIT 493/C LIT 496. Texts: Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place; Shakespeare, The Tempest; Brontë, Jane Eyre; Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea; Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
MW 7-8:50 pm
Self-Help and Inheritance. “Self-Help” is the title of a best-selling book from 1859 by Samuel Smiles. It serves in the title for a course exploring literature in English from the 19th-20th C., a period that has sharply promoted self-making through “self-help.” But with this has also come a complication in thinking about inheritance. Inheritance fills out the title and sets questions for the course about the extent to which we are “made” by what has gone before, whether through family, gender, race, class, national/imperial legacy, or cultural/literary tradition. The class is designed as an appropriate capstone for seniors completing an English major given its theme and its seminar format. It provides a forum for reflection on your own educational experience as an interplay between self-help and inheritance. Primary readings drawn from: Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Mill, ch. “Of Individuality” from “On Liberty,” Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (with recent TV production), Dickens, Great Expectations (with recent film), Woolf, “ A Room of One’s Own,” Naipaul, A House for Mr. Biswas, Ackroyd, English Music (2 ch.). Secondary historical/critical/theoretical material (short sel., not read by all) covered by presentations, drawn from: Samuel Smiles, Edmund Burke, Matthew Arnold, Barbara Hernstein-Smith, colonial/postcolonial criticism on Naipaul, Frederick Jameson on post-modernism, possibly A. S. Byatt. Requirements: on-going seminar discussion plus 2 presentations (whether leading discussion of a primary text or reporting on a secondary text); 4-5 pp. paper; 8-10 pp. paper treating more than a single text. If you choose, these can be related, so that the second paper revises and expands on the first. The above requirements count 25%, 25%, 50%. No final. I am open to adapt assignments to your purposes as you conclude your undergraduate work. Research, discussion, oral presentation, critical writing (in tight focus and more synthesizing formats) are practical skills you can enhance and lay claim to via this course. Past senior seminars of mine have proved helpful to students for providing the basis of letters of recommendation and writing samples, for purposes of graduate school or other training, or employment.