Courses

Boldface letters in parentheses after the course descriptions refer to the program requirements that a course fulfills: (A) gateway, (B) fiction, (C) poetry, (D) drama, (E) pre-1650, (F) 1650–1830, (G) 1830–1940, and (H) literary or critical theory. This applies to undergraduate courses only.

The Literature of Disgust, Rabelais to Nausea

Spring 2016-2017

26300

Zach Samalin

This course will survey a range of literary works which take the disgusting as their principle aesthetic focus, while also providing students with an introduction to core issues and concepts in the history of aesthetic theory, such as the beautiful and the sublime, disinterested judgment and purposive purposelessness, taste and distaste. At the same time, our readings will allow us to explore the ways in which the disgusting has historically been utilized as a way of producing socially critical literature, by representing that which a culture categorically attempts to marginalize, exclude and expel. Readings will engage with the variety of aesthetic functions that the disgusting has been afforded throughout modern literary history, including the carnivalesque and grotesque in Rabelais and the bawdy and satirical in Swift; revolted Victorian realism and gruesome Zolaesque naturalism; Sartre’s existential nausea and Kafka’s anxious repulsion; as well as Thomas Bernhard’s experiments with contempt and William Burroughs’ hallucinogenic inversions of pleasure and disgust. Prerequisite: Strong stomach. (F, G, H)

Race and the US Novel

Spring 2016-2017

26950

Richard So

This course will focus on intensive readings in major American novels that tackle the question of race and racial difference. Readings will begin in the early twentieth century with Henry James and Charles Chesnutt, move through the interwar period with Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston, and conclude with the post-war period with Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, and others. The class will include some critical material from major theorists of literature and race, such as Henry Louis Gates. (B, H)

The Global South: Knowledge, Culture, Aesthetics

Spring 2016-2017

27316

Peter Lido

This course will examine the geographically wide-ranging history, knowledge formations, and cultural productions of the global South, defined as the greater Atlantic sphere spanning the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and regions of Central America and West Africa. We will start by surveying the long colonial history of conflict and interaction in the West Indies between European settlers, enslaved African migrants, and indigenous populations, and the singularly complex arrays of locally determined ethnic, cultural, and linguistic formations that they produced. In addressing this history, we will also consider the region’s site-specific definitions of race, migration, settlement, identity, and cultural hybridity. We will then consider the ways in which these notions, along with the region’s own history and landscape, are dramatized in its twentieth-century literature and culture, by reading Gothic works of historical fiction (Carpentier, Faulkner), epic poetry (Walcott), and travel narrative (Hurston), as well as by track the aesthetic development of the region’s music, visual art, and architecture. (B, H)

Literary Modernism and the Cinema

Spring 2016-2017

27650

Sophie Withers

The increasing popularity of cinema alternately attracted and alarmed Modernist writers, who looked to the emerging art form both as an inspiration and as a foil for their own work. This course explores the influence that the recording, editing and exhibition of film had on the literary practices of Modernist writers. We will look at the fiction of writers such as Woolf, Joyce and Elizabeth Bowen; and at Modernist writers’ essays on the medium. How did cinematic experiences of glamor, temporality, anonymity and technology affect the experiments of writers who wanted to innovate their own medium? How can the emergence of cinema help us think about literary Modernism's approach to narrative and subjectivity? (G)

Global Anglophone Literature

Spring 2016-2017

28618

Hadji Bakara

This class introduces students to the emerging field of Global Anglophone literature, which analyses texts produced both at the center and the peripheries of Britain’s imperial projects, including Canada, Kenya, Jamaica, Trinidad, Nigeria, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, South Asia, and Great Britain itself. Beginning with some foundational material on the history and cultures of the British Empire, we will read a wide selection of 20th and 21st century texts from the greater Anglophone world, asking how these fictional works illuminate the forces that have and continue to shape the globalized yet unequal world we inhabit today. Special attention will be paid to global histories of race, indigeneity, gender, economy, development, liberalism, technology, and war. Primary works may include writings by Arundahti Roy, Amitav Ghosh, Joseph Conrad, George Orwell, Salman Rushdie J.M. Coetzee, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Doris Lessing, Rider Haggard, Michael Ondaatje, Eden Robinson, Nadine Gordimer, Rawi Hage, Chimimanda Adichie, Peter Carey, Ian McEwan, V.S. Naipaul, Patrick White, Jack Davis, Mulk Raj Anand, Indra Sinha, and Aravind Adiga. (B, G)

Postcolonial Openings

Spring 2016-2017

28619

Darrel Chia

In this course, we examine the perspectives, debates, and attitudes that characterize the contemporary field of postcolonial theory, with attention to how its interdisciplinary formation contributes to reading literary works. We begin by surveying the development and trajectory of the field, particularly as it develops around debates on revolution and compromise, cosmopolitanism, the psychology of colonialism, and anti-colonial historiography. Alongside this, we consider the recent disciplinary revival of the categories of “global Anglophone” and “world literature” through readings on “literary worlds” to to evaluate these categories, and their contributions to ongoing debates about translation/translatability, vernaculars, rewriting, and mimicry. What are the claims made on behalf of literary texts in orienting us to other lives and possibilities, and in registering the experience of geographic and cultural displacement? To better answer this, we read recent scholarship that engages the field in conversations around intimacy, belonging, and human rights, to think about the impulses that animate the field, and its possible futures.  Readings will likely include works by Debjani Ganguly, Kamau Brathwaite, Jean Rhys, Amitava Kumar, Sara Ahmed and Amitav Ghosh. (H)

American Cultures After 1945

Spring 2016-2017

28780

Michael Dango

This course is a survey of United States cultural production from 1945 to the present, organized by specific publics and cultures that these products have precipitated, mediated, or represented. In particular, we will consider the literature and visual culture of four loose groupings: Protest Cultures (especially antiwar and antiracist art and literature from the 1950s-1960s), Sex Cultures (1960s-1970s work from the "sexual liberation," including in its feminist and pro-gay varieties), Trauma Cultures (work memorializing racial, ethnic, and sexual violence in the 1980s-1990s), and Polarized Cultures (artistic production typical of the "culture wars" from the 1990s to the present). The course is therefore structured both chronologically and thematically, inviting students to make historically specific but culturally expansive connections across media, identity categories, political affiliations, and the high/low art divide. To do so, students will develop skills in "reading" novels, poems, photographs, comics, films, and music videos alike for cultural evidence. (B)

Scenes of Chicago Housing

Spring 2016-2017

28816

Adrienne Brown

From Jane Addams’ Hull House to the demolition of large public housing projects such as Cabrini Green, Chicago has played an outsized role within the national imagination about how different types of housing past, present, and future have worked or failed to work. This class will explore the narratives told about various forms of dwelling in Chicago in order to tell a broader story about how housing can alternatively make and unmake people and communities, fold or exclude inhabitants from spaces, economies and social imaginaries. Possible texts include: Henry Blake Fuller, The Cliff Dwellers, Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House, Edna Ferber, So Big; Nella Larsen, Passing; Arthur Meeker, Prairie Avenue; Richard Wright, Twelve Million Black Voices; Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm; Frank London Brown, Trumbull Park; Gwendolyn Brooks, Maud Martha; Lorraine Hansberry, Raisin in the Sun; Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street; Chris Ware, Building Stories; Audrey Petty, High Rise Stories. (B, G)

Advanced Writing Workshop

Winter 2016-2017

31001

Elaine Hadley

PQ: Second- and third-year English PhD students only. The Advanced Writing Workshop consists of several workshops led by an English faculty member. Students will take a paper from a previous class and revise it; the revisions will be read by other students in the workshop, along with at least two faculty.

Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent

Spring 2016-2017

21006 / 31006

Bozena Shallcross

“Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent: (In)Action, Surveillance, Terrorism” This course centers on a close reading of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale and seeks how the novel’s relevance stems in equal measure from Conrad’s prophetic depiction of terrorism fused with his interest in a wider political process and his distrust of state power; in particular, the course explores how these forces determine the individual caught in a confining situation. We read The Secret Agent as a political novel, which in its struggle for solutions defies chaos as well as an imposition of a single ideology or one authorial point of view. In analyzing the formation of the narrative’s ideology we discuss Conrad’s historical pessimism that demonstrates with sustained irony how capitalism breeds social injustice that, in turn, breeds anarchism. The critical texts include several older but still influential readings of the novel’s political and social dimension (Jameson, Eagleton), as well as the most recent pronouncements of A Simple Tale’s complexity. All texts are in English. (B, G)

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