(Descriptions last updated: 17 February 2006)
English 498 (Senior Seminar) is designed to provide an opportunity for students, working closely with a professor, to do advanced work in an area of special interest. The seminar topics reflect current forms of literary and cultural study across the full range of the English department curriculum. Enrollment in each seminar is limited to 15 students and registration is restricted to senior majors only. ENGL 498 is required of all students who declared an English major in Autumn 1994 or after, and may not be taken more than once for credit.
English Honors students, who are required to take two senior seminars as part of their honors program, will sign up for one of their two seminars under the number ENGL 497 (Honors Senior Seminar). Add codes for ENGL 497 are available in the English Advising office, A-2-B Padelford, (206) 543-2190. ENGL 497 may not be taken more than once for credit.
Please note: This schedule, as with all schedules established so far in advance, is tentative and subject to change (especially section letters, days and times, but also instructors and/or topics). Be sure to check this page for updated information prior to the quarter you wish to register for a senior seminar.
Deflecting “Down Under”: Reading Australian Literature.
“ Seeing comes before words . . . It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world, we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.” --John Berger, Ways of Seeing
This course focuses on Australian literature in verbal and visual formats. We’ll be reading and critiquing these narratives in dual perspectives as well, popularly and commercially, more than simply as “Down under” entertainment or adventure narratives. We’ll also be reading with more discerning eyes that recognize and focus upon serious, sociopolitical themes. Printed texts include Nugi Garimata’s Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, and Robyn Davidson’s Tracks. We’ll also be studying film adaptations of the novel and memoir, plus the film Lantana, adapted from a play to screen). Course requirements include engaged discussion, online secondary research, PowerPoint (visual) presentations, and short essays. This is an intensive 4-1/2 week course – daily participation is essential. Texts: Garimata, Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence; Davidson, Tracks; Edelson, Australian Literature: An Anthology of Writing from the Land down Under.
Race, Class, Gender, and Religion in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. A study of one of Shakespeare’s most fascinating and challenging plays. We’ll spend our time situating the play in its historical and cultural context. We’ll also examine contemporary theories of reading and explore how they might be applied to an understanding of the play. Essay, assigned reports, participation in seminar discussion. Texts: M. Lindsay Kaplan, ed., The Merchant of Venice: Texts and Contexts; J. B. Stean, ed., Christopher Marlowe, The Complete Plays.
Reading Literary Economics. In this seminar, we will explore the relationship of literature and economics and develop an understanding of how the two help shape one another. In other words, the course will teach you how to read literature economically and economics literarily. We will concentrate on writing produced in nineteenth-century Britain – a period whose literature is characterized by its attention to the socio-economic and political questions of the age. More specifically, we will look at the ways in which gender comes to bear on nineteenth-century imaginative and poetic economics. For example, we will read the economics of marriage, motherhood, and prostitution alongside the more traditionally “masculine” economics of manufacturing and business. In 1832, Harriet Martineau argued that fictional narrative was the best way to teach economic theory because it provides “pictures” where economic theory provides only “very try arguments.” We will consider the implications of this statement as we study a wide range of texts, including economic theory, novels, and poetry , as well as secondary critical materials. The course requires a substantial amount of reading and writing, including a number of short response papers, a midterm annotated bibliography and a longer (10-15 pp.) final paper. If you have any questions about the course readings or requirements, please contact the instructor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Texts: Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations; J. S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy and Chapters on Socialism; George Eliot, Adam Bede; Charles Dickens, The Christmas Books; Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford; Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy; T. R. Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population; recommended: Martha Woodmansee & Mark Osteen, eds., The New Economic Criticism: Studies at the Intersection of Literature and Economics; M. M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imaginations.
Magic Realism. We will examine el realismo magical as coined by Alejo Carpentier, or magic realism in English. We will begin with stories, essays, and poems by Jorge Luis Borges, whose work inspired the magic realist movement, and we will discuss other key Latin American writers in this genre as well as writers working with the form who come from other geographic, social, and political backgrounds. Texts: Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths; Julio Cortazar, Blow Up and Other Stories; Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude; Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and Other Stories; Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses.
Voiceovers – Resonance and Contemporary Narratives.
“When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock—to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures” --Flannery O’Connor, “The Fiction Writer and His Country”
hooooooo what a fall what a soar what a plummet
what a dash into dark into light what a plunge what a
glide thud crash what a drop what a rush what a swoop
what a fright what a mad hushed skirl what a smash
mush mash-up broke and gashed what a heart in my
mouth what an end.
What a life.
What a time.
What I felt. Then. Gone.
--Ali Smith, Hotel World
What a voice! What a story! What a shock to the senses! That’s what
this seminar listens to: voice. How an author creates voice to affect readers’ minds
and emotions through the style of language selected to convey particular narrative
elements. We will also consider why we as readers choose to amplify some of
these voices while others we silence—voices of the living, the dead,
the dull and the startling. Chords and discords that echo through conventional
genre divisions of literature, culture, rhetoric, feminist linguistics, and
ethnography we’ll employ and harken to as a means of framing and discussing
texts in this course. Our focus on voice and the ways in which voice resonates
in contemporary texts will call into question our views on issues of reading
practices and preferences, and their intersections with issues of gender, religion,
race, and class. We will spend class time voicing our analyses of voice as
it reverberates in all these contexts--on the printed page, via digitized tape,
in the inner ears of our imaginations.
Course requirements include discussion, writing critical stylistic analyses (of voice), and audiovisual presentations (you will be modulating your own voice, experimenting with critical voiceovers). Texts will include short stories, feature films, and documentaries. Spine bound texts for purchase at the UW Bookstore will include some or all of the following (list may be updated, so please attend the first day of class before purchasing books): Raymond Carver, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please; Ernesto Che Guevara, et al., Motorcycle Diaries: A Latin American Journey; David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day; Ali Smith, Hotel World; Roddy Doyle, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors.
Fractured Consciousness in Twentieth-Century American Culture. -- WITHDRAWN 9/13
American Literature and the United States of America. In tthis 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 explore such topics as Mencken’s America, Sinclair Lewis’s Elmer Gantry, the Scopes trial, and early twentieth-century evangelicalism; the formative period of consumer capitalism (Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class, Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, selections from Leach’s Land of Desire); American empire and imperialism (Woodrow Wilson, Gore Vidal’s Empire, selections from William Appleman Williams and Emily Rosenberg’s Exporting the American Dream), and responses to World War I (Randolph Bourne, Dos Passos’s The Big Money, Hemingway’s In Our Time). 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.
British Writing of the Nineteen Twenties. This seminar will read a variety of works from this turbulent decade of modernist experimentalism and dramatic social change. We’ll read the decade’s most famous poem, “The Waste Land,” and fiction by Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, and Aldous Huxley, as well as two notorious novels banned by the censors: D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Radcliffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness. Texts: Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party; T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover; Radcliffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness; Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point.
Loving/Hating/Reading/Fiction. This is a seminar in the weird pleasures, wild emotions, and secret seductions of reading fiction. How, exactly, do 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 which 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 opinions. Texts: Italo Calvino, If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; Michael Cunningham, The Hours; Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body; Monical Truong, Book of Salt; David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas.
Modern Poetry and Popular “Print” Culture. What do poems have to do with photographs, photocopies, weird explosions on stage, hypertext, political manifestos, newspapers, found objects, the voices from the bar downstairs and CAPITAL LETTERS? A whole lot, it turns out, if we look at the poetry of the past hundred years. In this course, we will examine some of the interdisciplinary and international literary revolutions of the twentieth century: dada, surrealism, the Black Arts Movement and the contemporary stuff that comes to us via ‘zines, slams and digital media. The products of these poetic enterprises were often put into print – but in radical ways, wildly tweaking and torquing the printed word to accommodate their dialogues with visual art, everyday experience, music and new publication technology. We will ask how the rebellious spirit of these movements was represented in “hard copy”; how material, political and technological conditions influenced poetic form; and how, or if, our descriptions of twentieth-century literary history need to change in light of these issues. Note: Previous study of poetry, modernism and twentieth-century literature is strongly recommended. Texts: Hans Richter, Dada: Art and Anti-Art; Fahamisha Patricia Brown, Performing the Word: African American Poetry as Vernacular Culture; Mark Eleveld, Marc Smith, eds., Spoken Word Revolution (w. CD).
The Heart Is in the Mind: Metaphysical Poetry from Early Modern to the Millennium. When love, death, belief, and human frailty, often suffused with sexuality, take possession of poetry, through a brilliant derangement of language at the edge of impossibility, who can tell what’s in the mind. But if you respond to the challenge, and are willing to pursue a thought, beyond what you thought you could think, you may very well take heart from that. Whether with irony, paradox, or mind-blowing metaphor, the poems we’ll be reading are passionate, but passionate as thought—so deeply felt, indeed, that as we think about such poetry, viscerally, in the body, it appears to be thinking us.
That’s what T. S. Eliot had in mind when, writing of the metaphysical poetry of the seventeenth century, he described its perceptual power—sometimes elliptical or circuitous, but the way it saw feelingly—as “the sensuous apprehension of thought.” As he was defining what poetry should be in the twentieth century—and his own poems, surely, had a lot to do with that—he gave a retrospective status to a poetry of ambiguity. Even at this historical distance, one of the most compelling things about reading John Donne or George Herbert is that, if you’re engaged with any intimacy, you may—as Freud said we must in modernity—learn to live in doubt. Given the dubious state of the world after the millennium, no less after 9/11, there seems no alternative to that. But, if you think about it, it’s doubt that prompts questioning, which unsettles the “certain certainties” of anything from smugness to some presumably reasoned, doctrinaire, or ideological position—or even, from some uncritical reflex, your own disposition. There is, of course, a subjectivity to poetry, which can often be elusive, but it may even serve politics by confronting you with the necessity of learning to read between the lines.
The readings for the seminar (still to be worked out) will move across history from the period we once called the late Renaissance (now “early modern”), to the Eliotic modern, or that of Wallace Stevens, its witty accretions of high intelligence, to the linguistic deposits of Susan Howe, who thinks of herself today, as in her writing on Emily Dickinson (whom we may also read), as a metaphysical poet.
Religion, Secularization, and Victorian Literature. Victorian literature is traditionally taught in conjunction with one version or another of the “secularization” hypothesis: the proposition that the modern world is becoming progressively less religious because urbanization, industrialization, and scientific progress (especially geology, astronomy, and Darwinian biology) militate against traditional religious experience and ideas. The nineteenth century saw no shortage of secularist prophets: Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, Ernest Renan and Matthew Arnold (among others) all predicted the imminent demise of Christianity. In retrospect, however, the secularization thesis seems unsatisfying as a wholesale explanation for the literary world’s preoccupation with religious issues in this period -- not least of all because organized religion failed to disappear on schedule. This course explores the possibility that we can find alternative ways of understanding the religious concerns that fill the pages of Victorian literature. It is designed to inquire what happens when we discard the convenient teleology that the secularization thesis has always provided, and to ask how else we might account for religion’s profound influence on literary culture. We will study some or all of the following authors: S. T. Coleridge, Thomas Carlyle, Charlotte Smith, Felicia Hemans, Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, E. Barrett Browning, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Frances Power Cobbe, A. C. Swinburne, Matthew Arnold, G. M. Hopkins, Mona Caird, Constance Naden, Amy Levy, Michael Field, and William James. Texts: Marmin & Tucker, eds., Victorian Liteature 1830-1900; Anthony Trollope, The Warden; George Eliot, Scenes from Clerical Life.
Self-Help and Inheritance. Self-Help is the title of a best selling book from 1859 by Samuel Smiles, a prototype of “self-help” books of our own day. 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 of the course and sets questions about the extent to which we are “made” by what has gone before, whether by 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, its seminar format, and significant writing component. It provides a forum for reflection on your own educational experience as an interplay between self-help and inheritance.
Primary readings drawn from: John Stuart Mill, short selection “Of Individuality” from “On Liberty,” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Virginia Woolf, “A Room of One’s Own,” V.S. Naipaul, A House for Mr. Biswas. Also for entertaining, up-to-the present perspectives on our heritage from the past and/or how we make it over for ourselves, we will have some discussion of current films of Pride and Prejudice and Oliver Twist, plus of a current "self-help" book. Secondary historical/critical/theoretical/film material (short selections, not read by all, covered by presentations) drawn from: Samuel Smiles, a current “self-help” book, Edmund Burke, 19th C. inheritance law (for Austen), current film of Pride and Prejudice, background on the New Poor Law (for Dickens), current film of Oliver Twist, Matthew Arnold, Barbara Herrnstein-Smith, cultural background on 20th C. colonial Trinidad, especially Hinduism (for Naipaul), critical selections on Naipaul's controversial reputation.
Requirements: on-going seminar discussion plus 2 in-class responsibilities (whether leading discussion of a primary text or reporting on secondary material); 5-6 pp. paper; 10-12 pp. paper treating more than a single text. If you choose these can be related, so that the second paper revises and expands upon 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, and critical writing (in tight-focus and wider-scope formats) are practical skills you can enhance and lay claim to in 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. 497: Senior honors ENGL majors only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL; 498: senior ENGL majors only.
Ressentiment in Modern Literature. Ressentiment is a term used by Nietzsche in Genealogy of Morals. The traits associated with ressentiment include: Desire for revenge; hate; spite; rancor; wrath; the impulse to detract; vindictiveness; taking pleasure in another’s misfortune. Modern thought in general, and modern literature in particular can often be characterized by the concept of ressentiment. Texts: Shakespeare, Othello; Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals; Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground; Kafka, The Metamorphosis; Chekhov, Uncle Vanya; Camus, The Fall; Conrad, The Secret Agent.
Modern Writing of the Black Diaspora. This course explores a range of twentieth-century black writing from the Americas and Europe. Modern African diasporic writing constitutes a major literature that engages with a wide variety of literary forms. Study of this literature has typically been organised along national lines: Afro-Caribbean literature, African American literature, and black British literature have been studied as self-contained units or as sub-units within national categories of Caribbean, American and British literatures. The rise of black Atlantic and diasporic studies has encouraged new ways to think about this literature, emphasizing the ways that the African diaspora has created literary patterns, themes and experiences that cut across national boundaries. This course examines black literature within both national and global/diasporic contexts, and aims to develop comparative knowledge of the Caribbean, the US and the UK as historical and cultural environments for black literary production. The literary representation of diaspora itself is a central concern. Other issues to be considered may include racial identity formation, slavery, colonialism, migration, and the “return” to Africa. To support the close reading of literary materials the course includes a range of theoretical, historical and sociological readings. Texts: Dionne Brand, Thirsty; Reginald McKnight, I Get on the Roof; Bernardine Evaristo, The Emperor’s Babe; George Lamming, In the Castle of My Skin; Grace Nichols, I is a Long Memoried Woman; Langston Hughes, The Big Sea.
Reading Literary Economics. In this seminar, we will explore the relationship of literature and economics and develop an understanding of how the two help shape one another. In other words, the course will teach you how to read literature economically and economics literarily. We will concentrate on writing produced in nineteenth-century Britain – a period whose literature is characterized by its attention to the socio-economic and political questions of the age. More specifically, we will look at the ways in which gender comes to bear on nineteenth-century imaginative and poetic economics. For example, we will read the economics of marriage, motherhood, and household management alongside the more traditionally “masculine” economics of manufacturing and business. In 1832, Hariet Martineau argued that fictional narrative was the vest way to teach economic theory because it provides “pictures” where economic theory provides only “very dry arguments.” we will consider the implications of this statement as we study a wide range of texts, including economic theory, evolutionary theory, and novels, as well as secondary critical materials. The course requires a substantial amount of reading and writing, including a number of short response papers, a midterm annotated bibliography and a longer (10-15 pp.) final paper. If you have any questions about the course readings or requirements, please contact the instructor at email@example.com. 497: Senior honors ENGL majors only; add codes in English Advising office, A-2B PDL; 498: senior ENGL majors only. Texts: Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations; Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population; Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy; George Eliot, Adam Bede; Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford; Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species; Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure; M. M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination.
MW 7-8:50 pm (Evening Degree)
Bridging the Gap: What Did You Do When You Did English? One purpose of a senior seminar is to provide a “capstone” – a sort of culmination and summary to a major. Often such courses focus on a special topic of one sort or another – a seminar, in other words, and the capstone part is the writing or a research paper. A different idea of a capstone would be a course which asks you to look back at where you have been as you have done English, and reflect upon what it all means. What HAVE you done as you have done English? What are your own personal high spots? What made them high? What are your disappointments? What do you now think you can do with what you learned? What is still left to do? We will provide occasion for you to investigate questions like that here, while also reading as a group a series of works from the past five centuries that address the role of humanities education in one way or another. We’ll also include movies with literary education themes as well. Evening Degree students only. Texts: Thomas More, Utopia; Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own; Norman McLean, A River Runs Through It; David Richter, Falling into Theory.
Literature and/as Economics in the Twentieth Century. This seminar will explore the manifold ways in which “economics” comes to bear upon literature, and in which literary and other creative productions articulate economic concerns. We will focus on texts from the first half of the twentieth century – a period that saw significant renovation and indeed shock in the areas of literature and economics – as well as a range of secondary and theoretical readings. Economic theory, history and criticism will serve as a framework for reading, even as we consider imaginative literary economies and the ways in which texts invoke economics in conjunction with articulations of the nation, empire, gender and sexuality – and posit economics as a site where these categories are contested. One of our objectives will be to explore how we can think about “economics” broadly, dynamically, literally and (at the same time) figuratively, as having to do with buying and selling; capital, currency and circulation; consumption and desire; politics and power; money and class. As diverse as the ways we will think about economics are the potential lines of inquiry we will take up – from the relationship of “modernism” to the strategies of capital, to the ways in which consumption comes to matter as a pervasive cultural trope, to the ways that economic policy and practice help re-define the nation and its subjects. Course requirements include consistent and engaged class participation, frequent shorter writing assignments, and a longer (10-15 page) final paper. Texts will include: Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out; F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; Jean Toomer, Cane; Djuna Barnes, Nightwood; Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight; Jane Bowles, Two Serious Ladies; and a photocopied course packet.
Deflecting “Down Under”: Reviewing Australian Literature & Culture
"Seeing comes before words. . . It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.” --John Berger, Ways of Seeing
This course focuses on Australian literature in verbal and audiovisual formats. We’ll be reading and critiquing these narratives with more discerning eyes, from multiple perspectives that allow us to see beyond the popular and commercial “Extra Shrimp on the Barbie” Australian image that Paul Hogan made famous two decades ago during the “Brand Australia” commercial campaign. Geared toward increasing tourism whatever the cost, this mass advertising effort continues to reinforce stereotypical images of Australia in the popular imagination. We will undertake a more comprehensive review to recognize serious and often tragic sociopolitical themes concerning race, class, gender and their relation to developing economies and national identities. Course requirements include engaged discussion, online critical research, PowerPoint (audiovisual) discussion leading and presentations, critical essay writing, and a final exam. Written texts will include Nugi Garimara’s Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence and Robyn Davidson’s Tracks, among other longer and shorter prose works. Film texts will include Tracey Moffett’s Nice Colored Girls, Peter Weir’s Gallipoli and Picnic at Hanging Rock, Russell Mulcahy’s Swimming Upstream, and Ray Lawrence’s Lantana.
Forms of Flattery: Imitation and Parody as Literary Investigation. Using W. D. Snodgrass’s De/Compositions as a guide, we’ll discuss why some poems, simply put, are better than others. Snodgrass selects 101 successful poems (by Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats, John Berryman, Elizabeth Bishop, etc.) and rewrites them, to disastrous effect. The results draw our attention to the more felicitous features (of tone, of music, of imagery) found in the originals. With these lessons in hand, we’ll write our own imitations (or forgeries) of time-tested poems, as we attempt (1) to better understand the poems in question, and (2) to win fame and glory in the classroom. We’ll also reserve several class sessions for a discussion of parody, about which Arthur Quiller-Couch wrote, “No neater or swifter vehicle of criticism has ever been invented. . .Required texts will include a course packet and two books: Snodgrass, De/Compositions; Seamus Heaney & Ted Hughes, eds., The Rattle Bag. The books may be purchased at Open Books: A Poem Emporium, located at 2414 N. 45th. (Hours: Tuesday to Thursday, 12 – 6, Friday & Saturday, 12 – 7). Open Books is one of only two poetry-only bookstores in the country. If you’re a student of poetry and you live in Seattle, you should feel obligated, I think, to darken its doorstep.
Literature of Social Justice. This course examines recently-published feminist and social justice texts, and aims to develop a cross-disciplinary conversation. We will engage with a wide variety of texts and genres that describe personal, literary, and academic accounts of power relations and social differences. These include novels, documentaries, journalism, feature films, and memoirs. All texts share an interest in imagining a more just world. The range and heterogeneity of texts is deliberate, and through their examination we might be able to consider how an entity called social justice is articulated, negotiated, practiced, and challenged. Prior academic experience with issues and theories of social difference will serve you well in this course. 497: Senior honors majors only (add codes in A-2B PDL); 498: Senior English majors only. Texts: T. J. Cock and A. Bernstein, Melting Pots and Rainbow Nations: Conversations about Difference in the US and South Africa; Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Imagining the New Britain; Carla Trujillo, What Night Brings; Graciela Limon, Erased Faces; Croteau, Hoynes, and Ryan, eds., Rhyming Hope and History: Activists, Academics and Social Movement Scholarship.
Memoir and Fiction. Two first-hand narratives of the holocaust and two fictional reconstructions provide cross-readings for us to consider literature as documentation and continuing response to the unthinkable. 497: Senior honors majors only (add codes in A-2B PDL); 498: Senior English majors only. Texts: Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning; William Golding, Free Fall; Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank; Bernard Schlink, The Reader; Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment.
Adaptation: Theory and Practice. The term “adaptation” describes the translation of a text from one genre to another. For some readers, texts lose much in the transition, with adaptations failing to equal their sources’ quality. However, in a Darwinian sense, adaptation allows organisms to endure environmental shifts. This alternate view suggests that, in the words of Robert Stam, adaptations “help their source[s] . . . ‘survive’ . . . changing environments and changing tastes. . . .” This class examines the theory and practice of adaptation. Our investigation will move beyond limited comparisons of “good” originals and “bad adaptations.” Instead, we will focus on the dialogue between multiple versions of the same story, asking how and why adaptations modify their sources in a particular manner. We will devote the first two-thirds of the quarter to case studies of Ghost World, Hamlet, Frankenstein, and Star Wars to consider how stories adapt to the aesthetic and commercial demands of multiple genres—novels, films, comic books, games and music. In the process, we will read adaptation theory and study the cultural contexts surrounding the source text and its various adaptations. During the last third of the term, students will develop their own web-based adaptations of selected works. Course assignments involve short analytical essays, a group project/presentation, frequent postings to the class discussion site, a Web-based adaptation, and a reflective portfolio. As a senior seminar, the course demands extensive student participation. Your questions and interpretations will guide our discussions. Expect to work collaboratively with other students and to confer with me as you determine the scholarly and technical demands of your adaptation. This section is computer-integrated, with students moving between a wired seminar room and a computer lab during most class meetings. The lab setting allows students to view and offer feedback on their peers' writing, work together on group activities, and conduct research. However, computer savvy is not a course prerequisite; students will receive instruction in all technical tools used in the classroom. Please note that there will be several film screenings outside of class. 497: Senior honors majors only (add codes in A-2B PDL); 498: Senior English majors only. Texts: Daniel Clowes, Ghost World; William Shakespeare, Hamlet; Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein; Terry Zwigoff, dir., Ghost World; students will also purchase one Star Wars novelization and one Star Wars comic of their choice.
Comedy. This seminar will explore the genre of comedy. Its main objectives are (1) to read closely eight representative comedies, from ancient to modern times; (2) to grasp the esthetics of major writers such as Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Molière, and Beckett; (3) to examine some major theories of the comic, and develop an overall sense of the tradition and cultural contexts of comedy, how comedy has changed over time and which features have remained constant. Specific topics include: the origins of comedy; the forms and features of “high” and “low” comedy; the conventions and techniques of romantic and satirical comedy; types and functions of laughter; tragicomedy, travesty, and farce. Requirements and Grading: there will be a number of brief assignments on individual authors, all leading up to one longer (15 pages) or two shorter research papers (7-8 pages) on a major author, period, genre or problem. Your final grade will reflect the quality of your paper (80%) and your performance in class (20%). Please note: in order to come up with a good research project and have enough time for its execution it is essential that you read at least three or four of the works on the reading list before the first meeting. 497: Senior honors majors only (add codes in A-2B PDL); 498: Senior English majors only. Reading List: Aristophanes, The Frogs; Plautus, The Braggart Soldier; Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Moliere, Tartuffe; Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest; Synge, The Playboy of the Western World; Beckett, Waiting for Godot; Stoppard, Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; photocopied course packet.
Modern Revisions of Classic Texts. In this seminar we'll explore modern revisions of four classic texts of the Western canon--Shakespeare's The Tempest, Bronte'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 accompany our discussion of the social, political, and interpretive controversies these works have generated.