Imagining Futures: Speculative Design and Social Justice | ENGL 21110/31110
Patrick Jagoda, Thenmozhi Soundararajan
- This experimental course seeks to disrupt dominant narratives about “the future”: a monolithic concept that often comes from technologists and policymakers. Instead, we explore what alternative futures might look like when imagined by and with marginalized communities. Beginning with movements such as Afrofuturism, we will read speculative and science fiction across media, including short stories, critical theory, novels, films, transmedia narratives, and digital games. Rather than merely analyzing or theorizing various futures, this course will prepare students in hands-on methods of “speculative design” and “critical making.” Instead of traditional midterm essays and final research papers, the work of the course will consist primarily of blog responses to shared readings, coupled with short-form, theoretically-founded, and collaborative art projects. These projects will imagine alternative futures of climate change, gender, public health, finance, policing, and labor. The work will be challenging, transdisciplinary, and will blur expectations about the relationship between theory and practice at every turn. As such, it is not a course for the craven; it is a course for students who wish to explore the complexities of collaboration and the sociopolitical possibilities of art.
Reading the Suburbs | ENGL 35952
- From midcentury writers like John Cheever, John Updike, and Richard Yates to the more contemporary work of Richard Ford, Tom Perrotta and shows like The Real Housewives the suburbs have largely been thought of as a place of homogenous unhappiness. In this class, we will both look at how this narrative has been constructed over the last sixty years while also interrogating the centrality of this claim by looking at works troubling its claims by authors such as Anne Petry, Chang Rae Lee, Vladimir Nabokov, and Alice Childress. Alongside fiction, we will be looking at history, advertising, and film that contextualize the rise of the suburbs, helping us understand the key role the suburbs played and continue to play in the accumulation of wealth, racial mobility, second wave feminism, and policing.
Migrations, Refugees, Races | ENGL 25011/36183
- This MA/BA-level course introduces students to globalization theory, with particular attention to readings that showcase the displacements and migrations that characterize the era of advanced global capitalism. Fleeing economic, social, and climatological collapse, migrants hardly find a second home; they become refugees without refuge. The limits on their flourishing extend far beyond the national borders that they cross in search of livable life. Wherever they go, they are discriminated and psychologically segregated by discourses of race nationalism, discourses in which migrations give rise to races. This course will focus on this process of migrant racialization—all the more pressing in light of current world events—with a curriculum that includes works by Weber, Simmel, Smohalla, Benedict Anderson, Anzaldúa, Appadurai, Brathwaite, Walter Benjamin, Celan, Derrida, Eggers, Ghosh, Le Guin, Glissant, Vine Deloria Jr., Woody Guthrie, Mbembe, Haraway, Tsing, Giddens, Negri and Hardt, Jason Moore, Bhabha, August Wilson, Sterling Brown, Big Bill Broonzy, Jacob Lawrence, Miguel Méndez, Mary Louise Pratt, Momaday, Silko, Canclini, Karen Tei Yamashita, Heise, Gikandi, Schmidt-Camacho, Fields and Fields, Bonilla-Silva, and Massey, in addition to film screenings and field exercises.
Poetry of the Americas | ENGL 28613/38613
- This course investigates the long poem or “post-epic” in 20th- and 21st-century North and Latin America. As we test the limits of the term post-epic, we will consider whether it may be applied equally to the heroic tale and the open field poem. How do poets interpret the idea of “the Americas” as lands, nations, and sources of identity in these works, and in what tangled ways do their poetics develop through dialogue across linguistic and geographical distances? Authors may include Pablo Neruda, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, Vicente Huidobro, Aimé Césaire, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Anne Carson, Lisa Robertson, M. NourbeSe Philip, Urayoán Noel, and Jennifer Tamayo. Undergraduate: (C,G) Graduate: (20th/21st)
Race and the Human in Anticolonial Thought | ENGL 46707
- This course will consider the vexed status of the human—and of the corresponding terms, humanism and humanity—in midcentury anticolonial thought and postwar antiracist discourse. Our way into this question will be some of the various attempts, after World War Two, to reconstitute “humanity” as a political and moral constituency, both in literature and philosophy but also in the work of institutions such as the UN and UNESCO. We will examine these textual and historical scenes alongside a close consideration of midcentury anticolonial prose concerned with the enduring violence of fascism, slavery, and empire, and the attenuated hopes and false promises of liberal humanism, but invested too in the trope of “humanity” and in the refiguration of radical new humanisms.
I’m a Slave for You | ENGL 55300
- This course will trace the philosophical, juridical, and literary itinerary of modernity’s impossible subject: the person who enslaves himself. From Grotius to Vitoria through Hobbes and Locke up to Mill and beyond, the one thing that modernity’s self-possessive subject cannot will to alienate, sell, or give away is himself. From this perspective, slavery can only be a relation of domination or as a vanishing moment before the enslaved contracts into servitude. In the process of installing this perspective, philosophical modernity foreclosed myriad philosophical and legal traditions of self-enslavement at the precise moment that slavery itself was generalized as the Atlantic world’s foundational mode of political and social relation. This course will explore how this philosophical bracketing of the problem of auto-enslavement enabled Atlantic modernity to bracket slavery itself as an exceptional, pathological condition; we will then explore how the philosophical coding of humans as free by anthropological default affected the social, legal, and political life of the actually enslaved. The first part of this course will track the impossibilization of auto-enslavement in early modern and Enlightenment philosophical texts on international law, political theory, Biblical hermeneutics, and abolitionism. In the second part of this course, we will examine black and white improvisations with the figure of the self-enslaving subject, reading slave narratives, legal texts and cases occasioned by the late legalization of self-enslavement in five antebellum U.S. states, the pro-slavery genre of anti-sentimental literature known as the “anti-Tom,” and more.