Courses

ENGL 18920 Camp: Notes on a Queer Sensibility

By the time Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp” (1964) had defined its object in the (now notorious) terms of a “failed attempt at seriousness,” the word camp – as a noun, an adjective, and a verb—had enjoyed more than half a century of connotative associations with homosexuality and gender-non-conformity. The history of queer representation in the Anglophone world is intimately tied to the history of camp, as both a dominant style for the representation and encoding of non-normative gender and sexual positions, and a prevailing sensibility through which queer subjects might relate to the world.

This course studies the development of camp aesthetics in key texts works of Anglophone literature, cinema, and mass culture, from Oscar Wilde through RuPaul’s Drag Race. Readings from gay/lesbian, queer, and literary theory will frame our discussion of a range of themes animated by camp aesthetics, including: relationships between gender, sexuality, subjectivity and style; issues of taste; the aesthetics and politics of the outrageous; and the relationship between social abjection and bathos. 

Possible texts by authors such as Oscar Wilde, Ronald Firbank, Edith Sitwell, Baroness Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven, Joe Orton, Djuna Barnes, and Gore Vidal ; cinematic texts might include films by John Waters, Andy Warhol, Annie Livingston (Paris is Burning); and a range of mass-cultural objects, including anything from Cher and the 2019 Met Gala to RPDR and Lady Gaga.

2021-2022
1830-1940
Theory

ENGL 10404 Genre Fundamentals: Poetry

“Poetry makes nothing happen,” W.H. Auden famously wrote. We’ll debate this idea as we explore a wide range of poetry and poetics, investigating how literature develops in concert with social, historical, and technological changes. We’ll begin by examining forms such as the sonnet, sestina, and villanelle, as well as free verse; poetic and rhetorical tools such as repetition, figurative language, rhyme, meter, and enjambment; and concepts of lyric subjectivity and intertextuality. In the second section, we’ll continue to develop strategies for analyzing poetic form while we investigate the links between poetry and history (particularly regarding war, genocide, trauma). The third unit emphasizes poetries of protest and self-determination in the U.S., with a focus on Black, Latinx, Asian American, and Native American poetries. Close reading, close listening, and close watching will all be important as we read poems, listen to poets recite their work, and watch poets perform. By the end of the quarter, students will have the vocabulary to analyze poetic technique and will have developed close reading, literary analysis, and argumentation skills. 

2021-2022 Winter
Genre Fundamentals
Poetry

ENGL 10606 Genre Fundamentals: Drama

Crosslistings
TAPS 16606

This course explores the pleasures and challenges of experiencing performance through the page. Students will read plays and performances from across the dramatic tradition closely, taking into account not only form, character, plot, and genre, but also theatrical considerations like staging, acting, spectatorship, and historical conventions. We will also consider how various agents—playwrights, readers, directors, actors, and audiences—generate plays and give them meaning. The course culminates in a scene project assignment that allows students put their skills of interpretation and adaptation into practice. No experience with theater is expected. Fulfills the Genre Fundamentals requirement in English.

2021-2022 Autumn
Genre Fundamentals
Drama

ENGL 10703 20th Century Short Fiction

Crosslistings
AMER 10703

This course presents America's major writers of short fiction in the 20th century. We will begin with Willa Cather's "Paul's Case" in 1905 and proceed to the masters of High Modernism, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Porter, Welty, Ellison, Nabokov; on through the next generation, O'Connor, Pynchon, Roth, Mukherjee, Coover, Carver; and end with more recent work by Danticat, Tan, and the microfictionists. Our initial effort with each text will be close reading, from which we will move out to consider questions of ethnicity, gender, and psychology. Writing is also an important concern of the course. There will be two papers and an individual tutorial with each student.

2021-2022 Autumn
Fiction
1830-1940

ENGL 10709 Genre Fundamentals: Fiction

This course offers an introduction to the fundamentals of narrative fiction, which explores concepts and analytical tools for reading and interpreting fiction, paying particular attention to the relationship between narrative, time, and history; the role of narrative in shaping both personal and national or collective identity; the relationship between allegorical and realist modes of representation; the status of fiction and of fictional characters. Throughout, we will be alert to formal concerns (about narrative voice in particular—omniscience, irony, free indirect discourse, etc.), as well as to socio-historical and literary-historical perspectives on the uses and pleasures of narrative art, taking examples from texts from different time periods and cultures. The organizing theme will be kinship, and our main texts are likely to be Yao Gyasi, Homegoing (2016), Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (1815), and Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart (1938). This course includes a discussion section that is to be scheduled after the class begins.

2021-2022 Spring
Genre Fundamentals
Fiction

ENGL 11004 History of the Novel

In this course we will read at least one novel from each century from the 18th to the 21st. We will also consider how some of these novels have been adapted to the cinema. Authors are likely to include some of the following: Henry Fielding, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Vladimir Nabokov, Tom McCarthy, and others. Where relevant we will also consider theories of fiction, narrative, and the novel, such as those of Mikhail Bakhtin, Roland Barthes, E.M. Forster, and René Girard.

2021-2022 Autumn
Fiction
1650-1830
1830-1940

ENGL 11200 Fundamentals of Literary Criticism

An introduction to the practice of literary and cultural criticism over the centuries, with an emphasis on theoretical debates about meaning and interpretation in the late 20th century and present. Authors will include Laura Mulvey, Raymond Williams, Pierre Bourdieu, Eve Sedgwick, Lauren Berlant, Louis Althusser, Fred Motenand others.

2021-2022 Spring
Genre Fundamentals
Theory

CWRW 12146 London vs. Nature: Writing Utopia and Dystopia in the Urban Landscape

In this Arts Core course, students will be introduced to a range of the utopian and dystopian fantasies that writers have produced in response to the metropolis of London as the imperial epicenter of manufactured ecologies, from the late nineteenth century through the present day. They will study early responses to modernism and modernization in the city by figures like William Blake, Frederick Engels, Henry James, Ezra Pound, and Virginia Woolf before moving on to contemporary writers such as R. Murray Schafer, who apprehends the city through “earwitnessing” of noise pollution, and Bhanu Kapil, who recalls the race riots of the 1970s against the backdrop of the Nestle factory on the site of King Henry VIII’s hunting grounds. Students will be exposed first-hand to how London is read by writers confronting planetary and political crisis through meetings with living publishers, authors, and art collectives like the Museum of Walking, grappling with the continual metamorphosis of the landscape—and through a sequence of on-site visits and psychogeographical experiments, they will have the opportunity to respond to the city in their own writing across a range of genres.

Prerequisites

*This course is a part of the 2021 London: British Literature and Culture study abroad program

2021-2022 Autumn

ENGL 12320 Critical Videogame Studies

Crosslistings
CMST 27916, GNSE 22320, MAAD 12320, SIGN 26038

Since the 1960s, games have arguably blossomed into the world's most profitable and experimental medium. This course attends specifically to video games, including popular arcade and console games, experimental art games, and educational serious games. Students will analyze both the formal properties and sociopolitical dynamics of video games. Readings by theorists such as Ian Bogost, Roger Caillois, Alenda Chang, Nick Dyer‐Witheford, Mary Flanagan, Jane McGonigal, Soraya Murray, Lisa Nakamura, Amanda Phillips, and Trea Andrea Russworm will help us think about the growing field of video game studies. Students will have opportunities to learn about game analysis and apply these lessons to a collaborative game design project. Students need not be technologically gifted or savvy, but a wide-ranging imagination and interest in digital media or game cultures will make for a more exciting quarter. 

Prerequisites

This is a 2021-22 Signature Course in the College.

Patrick Jagoda, Ashlyn Sparrow
2021-2022 Autumn
Theory

ENGL 12720 Inventing Consciousness: Literature, Philosophy, Psychology

What is consciousness? What is it like to be conscious? This course answers these questions by examining the emergence and development of consciousness as a concept. As a phenomenon, consciousness probably came into being deep in evolutionary time. Yet as a concept consciousness is relatively new: the European notion of consciousness emerges in the late seventeenth century. This course draws on literature, history, philosophy, and psychology to examine how the concept of consciousness came to possess its explanatory dominance. We will start by acquiring a sense of what consciousness now means in philosophy, biology, neuroscience, and fiction, paying particular attention to how the concept differs from similar ideas in ancient Indian philosophy. We will then turn to two important historical moments. First, we will examine the interplay between philosophy and literature in the late seventeenth century, reading texts by René Descartes, John Milton, Thomas Traherne, and John Locke. Second, we will focus on how, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the psychology of William James relates to the “stream of consciousness” techniques in the work of Virginia Woolf. This course stresses historical contingency—consciousness has a birthdate—in order to explore a consequence that follows from this fact: the extent to which current uses of this concept are still shaped by the historical circumstances that conditioned its emergence

2021-2022 Spring
Pre-1650
1650-1830

ENGL 15320 Witnessing Medieval Evil: Literature, Art, and the Politics of Observation

Crosslistings
LLSO 25320, MDVL 15320, SIGN 26057

Seeing hell for oneself, watching the torture of a saint, looking at illustrations of violence: these profoundly terrible experiences, narrated and drawn, shaped the way medieval readers took in the world around them, its violence, its suffering, its preponderance of evils. But how exactly does literature allow readers to witness and process such horrors? How is the observation of violence transformed by art? What is unique about the medieval experience of these artistic and literary forms of mediation? What can they teach us about our own contemporary cultural encounters with the sights and stories of atrocity? By exploring questions like these, this course will consider the didactic, religious, and epistemological functions of witnessing in a variety of early medieval texts such as illustrated copies of Prudentius’s Psychomachia (in which the Virtues engage in a gruesome battle against the Vices), the Apocalypse of Paul (in which Paul sees hell and lives to tell about it), early medieval law codes, the Life of St. Margaret, the Old English Genesis, and the heroic poem Judith. These medieval texts will be read alongside thinkers like Giorgio Agamben, W.J.T. Mitchell, and Susan Sontag, whose work on images of atrocity in the modern world will both inform our critical examination of the Middle Ages while opening up the possibility for rethinking literature and art in relation to contemporary experiences of violence.

2021-2022 Spring
Fiction
Poetry
Pre-1650
Theory

ENGL 15430 The Origins of Utopia and Utopian Literature

This course examines the foundations of utopian literature and its cultural footprint over time, including Thomas More’s classic text, Utopia, and other early modern responses to it. While we will attempt to sort out the hallmarks and boundaries of this genre as well as what makes imagining utopia so irresistible, special consideration will also be given to how these texts construct notions of gender/sexuality, race, and nation. How do these texts teach us to imagine other futures and worlds for ourselves? And how do they comprehend the political utility of that act? Other authors/texts to be studied in the course include (but are not limited to) William Shakespeare, John Milton, and Robinson Crusoe, as well as two important figures in the history of women’s writing, Aphra Behn and Margaret Cavendish. Readings will span from prose fiction and non-fiction, to lyric and epic poetry, to drama.

2021-2022 Autumn
Pre-1650
1650-1830

ENGL 15440 Desiring Machines: Artificial Intelligence in Contemporary Media

Artificial intelligence is a cross-disciplinary field that seeks to imagine and develop machines able to reproduce, automate and exceed the cognitive and sensorial capabilities of biological organisms. This course will trace the conceptual genealogies that inform contemporary AI, and it will interrogate the uses and abuses of AI within social, legal, medical and creative contexts. Course materials will include a diverse array of media and theory including: Soma, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Natural Born Cyborgs, Ex Machina, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, Speculative Everything, A Natural History of the Enigma, etc… No prior familiarity with AI or computation is necessary. In lieu of a traditional midterm and final, this course will ask students to develop a series of speculative design projects that imagine new intelligent organisms and their worlds.

2021-2022 Spring
Fiction
Theory

ENGL 15450 Framework, Recognition, Repetition: Experimental Poetry and Film

This is creative-critical class, and will involve both scholarly and creative work. Students will be asked not only to analyze the works we read and watch together, but to think with the authors/artists through making: students will write analytical papers and will also compose poems and/or films. We will consider 20th and 21st century works of poetry and film that deploy repetition as a technique, and use it to produce recognition, mis-recognition, or a felt failure to recognize. We will think together about why and how works of these time periods engage this dynamic, and what insights we might draw from reading and viewing them closely. We will also read short excerpts from several theorists and philosophers on these topics, but will primarily spend our time with poems and films. Authors and artists considered may include: Gertrude Stein, Hollis Frampton, Stan Brakhage, Lyn Hejinian, and Leslie Scalapino.

2021-2022 Spring
Poetry
Theory

ENGL 15460 21st Century and Neo-Slave Narratives

In this course we will explore how 21st century authors of neo-slave narratives write about our present sociopolitical moment by invoking antebellum slavery to do so. What does the genre of the neo-slave narrative open up or express and what might it be saying about the relationship between past, present and future? To engage with these and other related questions, we will be looking at neo-slave narratives across various types of media, such as novels, television shows, and graphic novels along with works of theory by authors such as Saidiya Hartman and Christina Sharpe.

2021-2022 Spring
Fiction
Theory

ENGL 15480 Making Progress with the Victorian Novel

A widespread belief in “progress” – the idea that history is always improving over time in a one-way, linear fashion – gripped the imagination of nineteenth-century Britain. At the same time, Victorian literature is rife with anxiety over the certainty of progress. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde presents a scenario in which scientific advancement goes too far, accidentally producing something monstrous. Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles begs us to ask: is life necessarily getting better over time – and for whom? This course will interrogate the construction of the Victorian belief in progress, its ideological consequences, and its complex representation in literature. Among other questions, we will ask: How did the concept and rhetoric of progress bear upon some of the most important historical developments of the 19th century – including industrialization, imperialism, and the rise of evolutionary theory? In what ways did Victorian novels reflect, reinforce, or complicate the notion of progress? How is the idea of progress encoded within the tropes of literary genres (e.g., the Bildungsroman, or the “coming-of-age story”)? Readings may include novels by Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Gaskell, Bram Stoker, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

2021-2022 Autumn
Fiction
1830-1940

ENGL 15500 Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales

Crosslistings
FNDL 25700, MDVL 15500

Close reading of the Canterbury Tales, with particular attention to the ways Chaucer’s experiments in literary form open onto problems in ethics, politics, gender and sexuality.

2021-2022 Spring
Poetry
Pre-1650

ENGL 15510 Pastoral Revisited: Cottagecore and its Antecedents

Inspired by the pandemic aesthetic "Cottagecore,” this course examines the historical desire for retreat and rural retirement. Beginning with early modern verse, we will ramble through the long history of the pastoral mode, revisiting poetic, prosaic, and digital iterations of that rolling-hill fantasy of rural self-sufficiency and leisure. Having foregrounded the elegiac tradition and Romanticism's darker pastorals, we will think about what is lost and who is excluded from 20th- and 21st-century revivals and re-imaginings of this ‘Green and Pleasant Land.’ Ultimately, we will ascertain the degree to which these varied works obscure a history of white supremacy and colonialism, before thinking about the dangers of a weaponized rural idyll (eco-fascism).

2021-2022 Spring
Poetry
1650-1830
1830-1940

ENGL 15520 Illness and Life Writing

With a few notable exceptions, illness was largely absent from life writing prior to the late twentieth century. We will pick up our story here (with backward glances at some of the more influential works) to see why it emerged during this period, how the topic of illness changed life writing, and how narrativizing illness changed conceptions of the body, patient advocacy and medical practice, and the social conceptions and figuration of disease. Because illness narratives stand at the intersection of medical humanities, narrative medicine, disability studies, and life writing, we will examine all these frames in conjunction with selected works in prose narrative and graphic narrative as well as in poetry, film, and the essay.

2021-2022 Winter

ENGL 15540 Comics at the Crossroads

Mid-1985 to mid-1986 is the most important year in comics history. This course is an introduction to comics through the prism of this period with snapshots of comics “before” and comics “after”; major texts are Maus, Watchmen, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and The Dark Knight Returns, all of which were released (or released in accessible formats) in ’85-‘86. We will try to identify the various forces that made this remarkable year possible: changes in the comics business, in American politics and culture, and in the life cycle of the superhero. In the mid-80s the “high” and “low” of comics blended like it never had before. This course is designed for the newbie and afficionado alike, whether you’re meeting these four of the greatest comics of all time, or rediscovering them within a new milieu

2021-2022 Winter
Fiction

ENGL 15560 Modern Love

What is erotic love? In “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” Audre Lorde defines it as “our deepest and nonrational knowledge,” associated with intimacy and attachment as well as the “measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings.” Similarly, in Plato’s Symposium, erotic love is defined as something “in between mortal and immortal,” akin to discernment which is “something in between wisdom and ignorance.” In this course, we will question the “in-betweenness” of erotic love, what this rhetoric implies, and what it seems to make known and knowable in modern life. Authors may include James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros, Andre Aciman, Maggie Nelson, and Ocean Vuong.

2021-2022 Autumn
Fiction
Poetry

ENGL 15570 Contemporary Climate Fictions

As the all-too scorching sun set on the past decade, news outlets the world over named 2019 “the year we woke up to climate change.” This course considers climate fictions across media, and tracks representations of disaster, extinction, contamination, and neocolonialism as “climate change” shifted to “climate crisis” and finally culminated in a “climate emergency” in the 2010s. What lessons do these stories of environmental crisis teach us? How do different media, forms, modes, genres, and aesthetics render these topics differently? What alternative endings do these texts imagine, and what might they be missing? Given that climate change disproportionately affects the poor, women, people of color, and Indigenous communities, we will pay particular attention to marginalized voices in conversations on environmental movements, and to the roles of marginalized characters in works of fiction. Possible films may include Jumana Manna’s Wild Relatives (2018), Wanuri Kahiu’s Pumzi (2009), and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Novels may include Ling Ma’s Severance (2018), Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves (2017), and Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (2014). Poetry collections may include Craig Santos Perez’s from unincorporated territory [saina] (2010), Tommy Pico’s Nature Poem (2016), and Juliana Spahr’s That Winter the Wolf Came (2015).

2021-2022 Autumn
Fiction
Theory

ENGL 15600 Medieval English Literature

Crosslistings
GNSE 15600

This course examines the relations among psychology, ethics, and social theory in fourteenth-century English literature. We pay particular attention to three central preoccupations of the period: sex, the human body, and the ambition of ethical perfection. Readings are drawn from Chaucer, Langland, the Gawain-poet, Gower, penitential literature, and saints' lives. There are also some supplementary readings in the social history of late medieval England.

2021-2022 Spring
Poetry
Pre-1650

ENGL 16500 Shakespeare I: Histories and Comedies

Crosslistings
FNDL 21403, TAPS 28405

An exploration of some of Shakespeare's major plays from the first half of his professional career, when the genres in which he primarily worked were comedies and histories. Plays to be studied include The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Richard III, Richard II, and Henry V. Together, we will read some of Shakespeare’s queerest and most delightful comedies in conversation with darker troubling plays that revolve around sexual violence, racism, nationalism, and political theory, and we will see how such topics put generic boundaries to the test. Valuing those classics for their timeless craft but also for the situated cultural horizon that they evidence, we will explore what it means to take comedy and history seriously. Three short papers will be required.

2021-2022 Autumn
Drama
Pre-1650

ENGL 16600 Shakespeare II: Tragedies and Romances

Crosslistings
FNDL 21404, TAPS 28406

This course explores mainly major plays representing the genres of tragedy and romance; most (but not all) date from the latter half of Shakespeare's career. After having examined how Shakespeare develops and deepens the conventions of tragedy in Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, and Antony and Cleopatra, we will turn our attention to how he complicates and even subverts these conventions in The Winter's Tale and The Tempest. Throughout, we will treat the plays as literary texts, performance prompts, and historical documents. Section attendance is required. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, The Renaissance.

2021-2022 Winter
Drama
Pre-1650

ENGL 18930 Contemporary Poetry by the Press

This course approaches contemporary innovative poetry by way of the small presses that publish and promote it. Students will read works of poetry from the last few decades alongside theoretical texts on poetry and publishing; write two reviews of recent poetry collections; survey the history of one small press and its most notable publications; and characterize the mixture of stylistic consistency and variation that makes that press viable over time. Presses covered will likely include Wave Books, Nightboat Books, Coach House Books, Futurepoem, and Commune Editions.

2021-2022 Autumn
Poetry
Theory

ENGL 18950 Nineties Feminisms

This course will survey feminist literatures of the 1790s, 1890s, and 1990s. We will cover works by authors like Mary Wollstonecraft, Sarah Grand, and Greta Gaard as well as feminist movements from New Woman ideal in the 1890s to ecofeminism and material feminisms in the 1990s.

2021-2022 Autumn
1650-1830
1830-1940
Theory

ENGL 19205 Poetry in the Land of Childhood

Crosslistings
GNSE 19205

Cupboards and attics, nests and shells, the inside of a bush, the bottom of a rowboat: for the 20th century philosopher Gaston Bachelard, intimate “fibred” spaces like these have a special relation to childhood—both as it is experienced and as it is remembered. Taking the lead from Bachelard this course investigates the construction, beginning in the eighteenth century, of childhood as a particular kind of place, one that might be imaginatively accessed through poetic images, rhythm, and rhyme. Our readings will come from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—that is, from the birth of children’s literature to its “golden age”—and will take us from the nursery rhymes and cradle songs of early children’s poetry collections, through William Blake’s “forests of the night,” and to the wonderland of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books.

2021-2022 Spring
Poetry
1650-1830
1830-1940

ENGL 20430 Wordsworth’s Prelude

Crosslistings
FNDL 20430

In this course we will closely study William Wordsworth’s major work The Prelude, or Growth of a Poet’s Mind, a long, Romantic-era poem that has proved both a paradigmatic model and a point of departure for a wide range of literary writing ever since. Revised throughout Wordsworth’s adult life (ultimately into the fourteen-book form of the poem published upon Wordsworth’s death in 1850), The Prelude helped set the terms that still govern our thinking about modern lyric writing and poetic language, the significance of autobiography and memory, the relationship between humanity and nature, the special spiritual and imaginative place of childhood, and the cycles of political revolution, regret, and healing that have seemed an enduring legacy of the French Revolution. The course will be structured as an extended, book-by-book close reading of the poem alongside illuminating contextual writings from Wordsworth’s interlocutors--both knowing and unknowing, past and present, local and global--that can provide a sense of the poem’s power and continuing relevance but also its problems and limitations.

2021-2022 Winter
Poetry
1650-1830

ENGL 21320 Archival Methods: Slavery and Gender in the Americas

This class offers an in-depth introduction to archival research methodologies with a focus on gender and slavery in the Americas. Students will apply their knowledge by working in historical and contemporary archives via two trips to special collections: one to view archival texts from the period and another to find an archival object of the student’s choosing that will provide the topic of their final research paper.

2021-2022 Winter
1650-1830
1830-1940
Theory

ENGL 21926 People, Places, Things: Introduction to the Victorian Novel

Introduction to the Victorian novel: with emphasis on interpretive methods. Quarter Systems and the Victorian novel do not mix well, which is only to say that this course cannot aspire to a comprehensive accounting of the Victorian novel, or the myriad forms of the novel that emerged during Victoria’s reign (1837-1901). What it does seek to do, however, is give you some little sense of the Victorian novel’s formal and thematic range in a few of the uncharacteristically shorter novels of the period, and—in the bargain—give you a few critical tools and concepts to better figure out what these novels are and what they might be doing. Critical approaches to the Victorian novel are as varied as the novels themselves, perhaps, but I’ve tried to give you access to some of the more recent interventions that centrally query character and characterization (people), things and the circulation of things, and location and spatialization (places). Jane Eyre, Hard Times, Lady Audley’s Secret, The Warden, Jude the Obscure, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

2021-2022 Winter
Fiction
1830-1940

ENGL 22048 Girlhood

Crosslistings
GNSE 22048

This course focuses on narratives in which the category of “girl” or “girlhood” is under construction, or called into question. We’ll begin with a number of works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (novels by Frances Burney, Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Bronte), and will move into novels, films, comics, and memoirs from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that draw on or depart from some of those earlier texts. Throughout, the course will draw on work from fields like sociology, history, and feminist and queer theory to consider changing conceptions of childhood, adolescence, and development, as well as the way that intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability shape categories and narratives of “girlhood.”

2021-2022 Autumn
Fiction

ENGL 23301 The Legacies of the Windrush Generation

Crosslistings
CRES 23301

In 1948, the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, Essex. Onboard were people who were from colonies such as Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad: they were migrants and subjects of the British Crown, as well as descendants of enslaved Africans and indentured Asians from the West Indian sugar colonies. Their arrival would transform British society, forcing a confrontation with its colonial past. And, what we now know as Caribbean literature took hold in this period, as newly-arrived West Indian writers found platforms for their work on radio and in London publishing houses. They and their descendants have commented on and critiqued race, empire, and plantation histories since.
This course explores the legacies of Windrush as social, political, and aesthetic phenomena. Beginning with Henry Swanzy, Una Marson, and their leadership on BBC’s radio show Caribbean Voices, we will engage with the creative works of Windrush migrants and their descendants: Samuel Selvon, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Hew Locke, and others. To understand social struggle, we will study the life of activist Claudia Jones and her founding of the West Indian Gazette And Afro-Asian Caribbean News. Finally, we will also examine the 2018 Windrush Scandal, in which at least 83 Britons were unjustly deported, in conversation with works like Hazel Carby's account of the intertwined histories of Jamaica and Britain, Imperial Intimacies (2019). Additionally, we will travel throughout London for museum and studio visits.

Prerequisites

*This course is a part of the 2021 London: British Literature and Culture study abroad program

2021-2022 Autumn
Fiction
Theory

ENGL 23302 Gothic Fiction and Architecture

Crosslistings
ARCH 23302

In this course we study the aesthetics and politics of gothic fiction and architecture. Many of us associate Gothic fiction with fearful tales of mystery and suspense. But the rise of a Gothic aesthetic in the eighteenth and nineteenth century was a political movement: British writers, architects, and architects embraced Gothic medievalism to express their opposition to capitalism and industrialization. We will study gothic fiction since the eighteenth century, paying particular attention to how this fiction was used to comment on a rapidly developing society. Our study of gothic fiction will draw us into the real spaces of London, where we will tour renowned Gothic Revival buildings such as the Houses of Parliament, St. Pancras railway station, and possibly a crypt or two. Readings may include Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto; Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey; Bram Stoker, Dracula; Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray; and Henry James, The Turn of the Screw.

Prerequisites

*This course is a part of the 2021 London: British Literature and Culture study abroad program

2021-2022 Autumn
1650-1830
1830-1940

ENGL 23304 The Stage and the City: Performance and Daily Life in Renaissance London

Crosslistings
ARCH 23304

Between the years 1500 and 1660, London developed into an urban superpower. By 1660, London was boasting a population of 350,000, which was nearly six times its population in the early sixteenth century (~60,000). This course asks what it was like to live in London as it evolved into something equal parts new, exciting, and frightening. We will be considering this question through three city comedies set in London and written between 1609 and 1640. City comedies are particularly good at detailing the perils, thrills, and novel sensoria of an expanding metropolis. We will use these plays as a testing ground to articulate for ourselves what central issues have been raised by London-living over the centuries. What was it like to go to an early iteration of a shopping mall? How were categories of disability, race, gender, and sexuality negotiated through this dense and diverse population? How have city dwellers dealt with plague or famine?

Students will be asked to use the issues drawn from this historical context to formulate their own research project about any period of London's history. Throughout the course, the class will take field trips to London neighborhoods, an archive, a theatre performance, and several museums. By engaging with the resources and experiences available in 21st-century London, students will use their imagination and research skills to travel back in time and discover the various "Londons" that have emerged over this city's history.

Prerequisites

*This course is a part of the 2021 London: British Literature and Culture study abroad program

2021-2022 Autumn

ENGL 23770 Introduction to Black Studies

This course introduces students to some of the major themes, perspectives, and questions that underlie the interdisciplinary orientation of Black studies, a field of study that centers the multifaceted experiences, histories, cultures, and politics of peoples of African descent throughout the diaspora. As the late Trinidadian historian C.L.R. James asserts, the primary purpose of Black studies is not only to challenge Euro-American conceptions of history, geography, temporality, and social relation, but ultimately to achieve “the complete reorganization of the intellectual life and historical outlook of the United States, and world civilization as a whole.” This course will serve as an introduction to this dynamic field and its history, and will focus in particular on Black cultural and political movements that span the Americas, Caribbean, Africa, and Europe.

2021-2022 Spring
Theory

ENGL 24250 Race, Performance, Performativity

Crosslistings
CRES 22250, TAPS 25850

What does it mean to feel raced, and how does performance work with or against such feelings? Why and how does a performance of racial identity come to be perceived as “authentic?” What is at stake in performances that that cross real or imagined racial lines? This upper-level class delves into the topic of performativity as it intersects with race in the American context. Some historical background is studied, but we will mostly explore performativity’s intersection with race in contemporary America. Course assignments are a mix of the theoretical, dramatic, and performative. (In other words, some of our readings theorize performativity while others put theory into play.)

2021-2022 Winter
Drama
Theory

ENGL 24412 Theater about Theater

Crosslistings
SIGN 26020, TAPS 28431

This course is a transhistorical study of changing ideas about representation, explored through the lens of early modern and twentieth-century plays that foreground theatrical form. Every play frames time and space and in the process singles out a portion of life for consideration. The plays we’ll consider this term call conspicuous attention to the frame itself, to the materials and capacities of theater. What happens when plays comment on their own activity? Why might they do so? Why has theatrical self-consciousness emerged more strongly in particular historical periods? What might such plays teach us about the nature of art, and about the nature of life? To what extent can we distinguish between art and life? We’ll explore these and other questions through plays by Marlowe, Kyd, Shakespeare, Pirandello, Beckett, Genet, Stoppard, Nwandu, and Young Jean Lee; and through theoretical work by Puchner, Hornby, Sofer, Fuchs, and others.

2021-2022 Winter
Drama

ENGL 24680 The Art of Memoir: Then (19th Century) and Now

We’ll begin with selections from Rousseau and Wordsworth that mark their talk about themselves as urgent and unusual, and then focus on some examples of the genre from the past fifty years that have made people call this period the age of memoir: James Baldwin, Mary Karr, D.A. Miller, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

2021-2022 Spring

ENGL 25230 Democracy and the School: Writing about Education

Examining arguments about schooling in democracy, access to education, and the relationship between education and power, this course reads fiction and nonfiction prose from the US during the decades after Reconstruction, when education figures centrally in debates about citizenship and enfranchisement. Taking up writers including Anna Julia Cooper, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Zitkala-Sa, W.E.B. Du Bois, Edith Wharton, and Henry Adams, we'll weigh conflicting accounts of education as device for control, a site for violence, a means of becoming oneself, and a vital form of democratic empowerment.

2021-2022 Spring
Fiction
1830-1940

ENGL 26270 Urban Fiction / American Space, 1890-2010

This course situates the depiction of urban environments in narrative prose fiction (by Abraham Cahan, Upton Sinclair, John Dos Passos, Richard Wright, Ann Petry, Sandra Cisneros, and Don DeLillo) within a broader discourse of urbanization (e.g., work by Jacob Riis, W.E.B. Dubois, Jane Addams, Saskia Sassen).

2021-2022 Spring
Fiction
1830-1940

ENGL 26500 The Age of Washington and Du Bois

The goal of this course will be to examine the nexus of intellectual, political, ideological, and material forces that have shaped common understandings of African American literature.

2021-2022 Spring
Fiction
1830-1940

ENGL 27548 Multiculturalism, James Baldwin to Zadie Smith

Crosslistings
CRES 27548

In this course students will encounter some of the key texts that have shaped and been shaped by multicultural logics from the mid-twentieth century onward. We’ll consider multiculturalism’s many valances as they have arisen in literary polemics, university studies, and contemporary fiction. The course will also push students to ask how multiculturalism has translated between the United States and Great Britain as well as what the complexities of this translation have meant for Black, Cultural, and Post-Colonial Studies.

2021-2022 Spring
Fiction

ENGL 28230 Fashion and Change: The Theory of Fashion

This course offers a representative view of foundational and recent fashion theory, fashion history, and fashion art, with a historical focus on the long modern era extending from the eighteenth century to the present. While engaging the general aesthetic, sociological, and commercial phenomenon of fashion, we will also devote special attention to fashion as a discourse self-reflexively preoccupied with the problem of cultural change—the surprisingly difficult question of how and why “change” does or does not happen. We will aim for a broader appreciation of fashion’s inner workings—its material processes, its practitioners—but we will also confront the long tradition of thinking culture itself through fashion, to ask how we might productively do the same.

2021-2022 Winter
Theory

ENGL 20375/30375 Emancipation in Literature and History

This course explores 19th-century slave emancipation in the United States as conceived in imaginative literature and in the post-World War II historical imagination.

2021-2022 Autumn
1830-1940
18th/19th

ENGL 30430 American Fiction of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

This course offers an introduction to fiction from the Gilded Age and Progressive Era in the US. We'll ask how short stories and novels intervene in the period's debates about US imperialism, immigration, corporate capitalism, eugenics, racism, and democracy; we'll also examine fiction's role in writing the history of the Civil War, sectional reconcilation, and the racial violence attending Reconstruction and its aftermath. Paying close attention to how and where our texts were first published and read, we'll consider the usefulness of the categories that have described them (such as regionalism, realism, and naturalism). Authors may include: Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, Stephen Crane, Pauline Hopkins, Upton Sinclair, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton.

2021-2022 Winter
18th/19th

ENGL 32123 Ecopoetics: Literature and Ecology

This course will introduce students to recent debates in the environmental humanities and simultaneously to a range of creative responses across fiction, documentary, poetry, and the visual arts spurred by the effects of what has come to be called the Anthropocene epoch (despite substantive challenges to the term that we will address)—in a period of perceived grave environmental crisis. Students will be asked to respond critically to the works at hand, but also to conduct their own research and on-site fieldwork in Chicago on an environmental issue of their choosing. Students must be available for several field trips.

2021-2022 Winter
20th/21st

ENGL 32270 The Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds

It has been nearly fifteen years since Isabel Hofmeyr urged thinking across geographies in her essay “The Black Atlantic Meets the Indian Ocean.” The Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean are not newly connected, but rather have been connected through the circulation of labor and goods since antiquity. How does our understanding of regimes like slavery and contract labor, and concepts like diaspora and migration, change when we think betwixt and between? This interdisciplinary seminar takes up this mantle, looking to literature, art, theory, and history that provide new accounts and imaginaries of the Caribbean, Southern and East Africa, and the Indian subcontinent—and the waters that reach their shores.
Readings may include Andrew Liu and Anna Arabindan-Kesson on goods like tea and cotton, Jazmin Graves on the African Indian Sidi community, Neelofer Qadir on narratives of South Asian labor migration to East Africa, among others. Writers and artists may include Gaiutra Bahadur, Amitav Ghosh, Andil Gosine, and Sharlene Khan. In addition, we may look to scholarship that conceptually crosses these ocean worlds, such as Durba Mitra and Jordache Ellapen on South-South and Afro-Asian feminisms. While this course will be conducted in English, participants are encouraged to bring materials and expertise that move beyond an Anglophone frame

2021-2022 Spring
18th/19th
20th/21st

ENGL 33390 British Romantic Fiction and the Historical Novel

As critics have rediscovered the fiction of the Romantic period in recent years, they have found not only neglected literary texts worthy of recovery but also signs of the emergence of many qualities that we take to mark the modernity of the British novel: investment in deep interiority, altered forms of narrative authority, allegiance to a national canon, and cognizance of a publishing marketplace that was newly saturated with choices, structures by serials, and segmented into subgenres. We will particularly organize this course around one further sign of the Romantic novel’s modernity: an unprecedented preoccupation with the representation of cultural-historical specificity.
Literary history has come to recognize Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels, which established the historical novel’s “classical form,” as the embodiment of a distinctly Romantic historical impulse. But Scott’s influential practice of history was only one of many models available in its time, and we will follow the lead of recent critics who have generated considerably more complex accounts of historical fiction by taking issue with presumptions about Scott’s priority—both in his own day and in our own. As we mark the emergence of the historical novel, we will also situate this subgenre within a wider expansion of the code of realism that attended to social-historical phenomena and processes in new and enduring ways.

2021-2022 Spring
18th/19th

ENGL 24002/34002 James Joyce’s Ulysses

Crosslistings
FNDL 24004

This course consists of a chapter-by-chapter introduction to Ulysses. We will focus on such themes as the city, aesthetics, politics, sex, food, religion, and the family, while paying close attention to Joyce’s use of multiple narrators and styles. Students are strongly encouraged to read Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Homer’s Odyssey as preparation for this course. Assignments will consist of quizzes, collaborative class presentations, regular contributions to the online discussion board, and a final paper

2021-2022 Autumn
Fiction
1830-1940

ENGL 34220 New York, Capital of the Twentieth Century

Crosslistings
ARCH 34220

From the late 1950s New York became a world center for innovative poetry, painting, jazz and dance. This course explores the networks that linked uptown and downtown, black and white, queer and straight and other scenes, with the tensions both productive and destructive these created.

2021-2022 Spring
20th/21st

ENGL 24526/34526 Forms of Autobiography in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

This course examines the innovative, creative forms autobiography has taken in the last one hundred years in literature. We will study closely works written between 1933 and 2013 that are exceptional for the way they challenge, subvert and invigorate the autobiographical genre. From unpublished sketches to magazine essays and full-length books, we will see autobiography take many forms and engage with multiple genres and media. These include biography, memoir, fiction, literary criticism, travel literature, the graphic novel and photography. Producing various mutations of the autobiographical genre, these works address some of the same concerns: the self, truth, memory, authenticity, agency and testimony. We will complement discussions of these universal issues with material and historical considerations, examining how the works first appeared and were received. Autobiography will prove a privileged site for probing constructions of family narratives, identity politics and public personas. The main authors studied are Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, Vladimir Nabokov, Roland Barthes, Paul Auster, Doris Lessing, Marjane Satrapi and W.G. Sebald.

Christine Fouirnaies
2021-2022 Winter

ENGL 34770 Digital Media Aesthetics: Interaction, Connection, and Improvisation

Crosslistings
TAPS 34770

This course investigates the ways that digital and networked media have changed contemporary aesthetics, forms, storytelling practices, and cultures. Along the way, we will analyze electronic literature, Twine games, interactive dramas, video games, transmedia narratives, and more. Formally, we will explore concepts such as multilinear narrative, immersive and navigable worlds, network aesthetics, interactive difficulty, aleatory poetics, and videogame mechanics. Throughout the quarter, our analysis of computational media aesthetics will be haunted by matters of race, gender, sexuality, class, and other ghosts in the machine. Students need not be technologically gifted or savvy, but a wide-ranging imagination and interest in new media cultures will make for a more exciting quarter.

2021-2022 Winter
20th/21st

ENGL 35270 Strange Worlds

Medieval Literature often conjures worlds of almost science-fictional strangeness. We will focus on the fantastic spaces of romance and visionary religious literature to explore the affective, conceptual, and ideological experiments enabled by medieval forms of estrangement.

2021-2022 Spring
Poetry
Pre-1650
Med/Ren

ENGL 35670 Modernist Poetry

This introduction to modernist poetry focuses on British, Irish, and expatriate American poets such as T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Mina Loy, and W.B. Yeats. We will also consider some of their antecedents (such as Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Charlotte Mew) and some of their contemporaries, known as the “war poets,” such as Wilfred Owen, David Jones, Siegfried Sassoon, and Isaac Rosenberg. Assignments will consist of: two papers, collaborative class presentations, and regular contributions to the online discussion board.

2021-2022 Winter
20th/21st

ENGL 35950 Beckett and Media

Crosslistings
TAPS 35950

Though best known for a single play, Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett was a poet, novelist, short-story writer, playwright, translator, and critic with a voluminous output. This course introduces students to the variety and influence of one of the central figures in twentieth-century literature and theater by considering Beckett’s better-known plays—both on the page and in recorded performances—alongside select novels, criticism, film, radio, and television pieces. Among the questions we will ask are: What can Beckett’s experiments across media teach us about the presumed and actual limits of form? What happens when a medium becomes the means of its own undoing? What can we learn from Beckett’s career about cardinal developments in twentieth-century drama, literature, film, and television?  

2021-2022 Autumn
Drama
20th/21st

ENGL 25011/36183 Migrant Poetics

Crosslistings
CRES 25011, CRES 36183, LACS 26183

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.

2021-2022 Spring
Theory

ENGL 36210 Translation Theory and Practice 

This course introduces students to the field of Translation Studies and its key concepts, including fidelity, equivalence, and untranslatability, as well as the ethics and politics of translation. We will investigate the metaphors and models that have been used to think about translation and will consider translation as a transnational practice, exploring how “world histories” may be hidden within “word histories,” as Emily Apter puts it. In the process, we will assess theories of translation and poetry from classical antiquity to the present; compare multiple translations of the same text; and examine notable recent translations. Students will regularly carry out translation exercises and create a final translation project of their own.

2021-2022 Autumn
20th/21st

ENGL 36590 The Pleasure of Hating: Satire Now and Then

"Satire exposes human folly to ridicule in order, as Jonathan Swift claimed, “to mend the world.” This course will examine the protean mode of satire—its history, its forms, its pleasures and its politics—beginning with the origins of satire in Ancient Greece and Rome and extending through the literary satire of the 17th-19th centuries to the contemporary popularity of news satire and sketch comedy. We will supplement our reading with theoretical and critical discussions of satire by John Dryden, William Hazitt, Mikhail Bakhtin, Northrop Frye, Linda Hutcheon, and others.

2021-2022 Autumn
18th/19th

ENGL 37270 Empire Books

This course will examine books that were important in the British project of empire in the nineteenth century, both as texts contributing to debates about empire and its operations, and as material objects that circulated around the globe. We will take up three themes: commodities and their regimes (e.g. Opium, and the Opium Wars); slavery and other types of labor migration; settler colonialism. Books will include Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821); Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave, Related by Herself (1831); [Edward Gibbon Wakefield], A Letter from Sydney (1829); Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847). The class will meet in Special Collections in Regenstein.

Prerequisites

*The class is open to undergraduates by permission.

2021-2022 Autumn
18th/19th

ENGL 27870/37870 Midcentury Modern Fiction: Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Sylvia Townsend Warner

In this course we will study three British (or in Bowen’s case, Anglo-Irish) novelists whose principal works were published between the 1920s and the 1970s. While Woolf is well-known, Bowen and Warner have only begun to receive the recognition they deserve. We will read a selection of their fiction, probably including Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Between the Acts, Bowen’s The Last September and The Heat of the Day, and Warner’s Lolly Willowes and Summer Will Show. We will also read a selection of these writers’ shorter works, especially Bowen’s and Warner’s extraordinary stories about Britain in World War II. Assignments will consist of collaborative class presentations, regular contributions to the online discussion board, and a final paper.

2021-2022 Winter
20th/21st

ENGL 28290/38290 Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa

Crosslistings
FNDL 28290

This course will examine the very long and possibly—very probably—the greatest novel in the English language. We’ll consider the effect of Richardson’s decision to conduct his novel as a series of letters, and we’ll pay particular attention to his extraordinary effectiveness in creating complexity in a fairly simple plot and in tracking an ever-expanding cast of characters. The Penguin edition we’ll be using comes to 1499 pages, and they are over-sized pages. This is a course for committed readers!

2021-2022 Autumn
1650-1830
18th/19th

ENGL 39100 Black Studies Research Methods

This course will introduce and examine some of the concepts, methodological approaches, and ethical commitments and challenges relevant for pursuing research and teaching in Black studies. This methods class will study these frameworks alongside the history of the field and its many contemporary iterations in order to explore how different configurations of research process and theoretical innovation continue to shape scholarly work in this field. In addition to readings by Barbara Christian, Sylvia Wynter, St. Clair Drake, Roderick Ferguson, and others, students will “try on” certain methodological approaches in practical assignments throughout the quarter.

2021-2022 Spring
20th/21st

ENGL 40701 Early Modern Natality

This course explores how birth, infancy, and other forms of radical beginning were given discursive shape in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. In light of the increasing importance accorded to natality and its conceptual cognates—highlighted in the work of such thinkers as Hannah Arendt, Michel Henry, Adriana Caverero, and Giorgio Agamben, among others—we will read works of literature, philosophy, and medicine from early modernity, a period obsessed with phenomena akin to what we now call natality. Topics will include the recovery of human experiential newness in the writings of John Milton, Thomas Traherne, and Henry Vaughan; the philosophical appropriation of the new in René Descartes and John Locke; and the politics and practice of midwifery (Jane Sharp) as it related to the increasing medicalization of birth and infancy.

2021-2022 Spring
Pre-1650
1650-1830
1830-1940
Med/Ren

ENGL 42200 Marxist Literary Criticism: Fredric Jameson

2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Political Unconscious. This seminar will provide students with an overview of Marxist literary criticism via the career of one of its most innovative living practitioners.

2021-2022 Spring
20th/21st

ENGL 24813/44813 South African Fictions and Factions

Crosslistings
CMLT 24813/44813, CMST 24813/34813, CRES 24813

This course examines the intersection of narrative in print and film (fiction and documentary) in Southern Africa since mid-20th century. We begin with Cry, the Beloved Country, a best seller written by South African Alan Paton while in the US, and the original film version by British-based director (Korda), and American screenwriter (Lawson), which show both the international impact of South African stories and important elements missed by overseas audiences. We continue with fictional and nonfictional responses to apartheid and decolonization, and examine the power and the limits of the “rhetoric of urgency” (L. Bethlehem). We will conclude with writing and film that grapples with the contradictory post-apartheid world, whose challenges, from crime and corruption to AIDS and the particular problems faced by women and gender minorities, elude the heroic formulas of the anti-apartheid era.

Prerequisites

*Open to third- and fourth-year undergraduates and graduates only. Pre-requisites: Must have completed Hum Core plus one or more of the following: Intro to Fiction or equivalent; International Cinema, or equivalent; Intro to African studies

2021-2022 Spring
Fiction
Drama

ENGL 46202 Performance Theory: Action, Affect, Archive

Crosslistings
CMLT 46202, TAPS 46202

This seminar offers a critical introduction to performance theory and its applications to theatre and other practices. We will discuss three key conceptual clusters:
a) action, acting, and forms of production or play, from classical (Aristotle) through modern (Hegel, Brecht, Artaud), to contemporary (Richard Schechner, Philip Zarilli, others); b) affect, and its intersections with emotion and feeling: in addition to contemporary theories, we will read earlier texts that anticipate recent debates (Diderot, Freud) and their current interpreters (Joseph Roach, Erin Hurley, others), as well as writing about the absence of affect and the performance of failure (Sara Bailes, etc.); and c)archives and related institutions and theories, including audience formation (Susan Bennett) and challenges of recording ephemeral acts: theorists of memory (Pierre Nora) and remains (Rebecca Schneider), theatre historians (Daphne Brookes, Tracy Davis and others) as well as current theorists on the tensions between the archive and the repertoire (Diana Taylor) Course expectations include active and complete participation; two oral presentations and a final paper. The final paper could be a review article (ca 5000 words) using two recent books in your field to examine key concepts that define the field and controversies they may engender.

2021-2022 Winter

ENGL 29992/49992 Metapictures

Crosslistings
ARTH 29992/39992, ARTV 20022/30022, CMST 27505/37505

This course is based on an exhibition that was first staged at the Overseas Contemporary Art Terminal in Beijing in the fall of 2018, and subsequently re-enacted at the Royal Academy in Brussels in the spring of 2020. The exhibition explores “pictures within pictures,” images that reflect on the nature of image-making, across a range of media and genres. A virtual version of the exhibition is available on the Prezi platform: https://prezi.com/oogd4qxqu4m2/copy-of-working-copy-of-metapictures/?pr… , and a physical installation, supported by the Smart Museum, will be installed in the Media Arts Data and Design Center (MADD). Visual materials for the course include paintings and drawings, diagrams, models of the visual process, image “atlases,” multi-stable images, cinematic and literary representations of images nested within narratives.
The readings for the course will include Michel Foucault on Velasquez’s Las Meninas, Walter Benjamin on “dialectical images,” C. S. Peirce on iconicity, Nelson Goodman on analog and digital codes, and Georges Didi-Huberman on Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Bilderatlas. Students will be encouraged to explore traditional examples of metapictures such as the Duck-Rabbit (canonized by Gombrich and Wittgenstein) or to investigate newly emergent forms of self-reflexive media. Guest lectures will be given by Patrick Jagoda on experimental games and Hillary Chute on comics and graphic narrative; these might be coordinated with the Media Aesthetics core sequence in the fall term, which focusses on the question of the image.

2021-2022 Autumn

ENGL 53570 Slavery, Law, and Literature

This course will explore the intersection of law, literature, and slavery in the United States. In part, this class will provide an introduction to the methods and animating questions of the “law and literature” mode of scholarship. More particularly, we will examine how law decisively structured the cultural imaginaries of abolitionist and pro-slavery writers, a structure that endures in many contemporary public debates on the histories of slavery and freedom. While attending to the atmospheric legalism of abolitionism, we will also consider anti-legalist and anarchist critiques of the abolitionist mainstream—critiques that put pressure upon construing slavery’s antitheses in the legal genres of personhood, citizenship, and so on.

2021-2022 Winter
18th/19th

ENGL 54420 Introduction to the Environmental Humanities

This course critically examines the Environmental Humanities as an interdisciplinary and unruly field. We will focus our attention on some of the topics that have animated the field as it has coalesced over the past ten or fifteen years: the Anthropocene and its alternatives; environmental racism and global inequity; competing narratives of apocalypse and resilience; posthumanist accounts of species relations. We will also discuss the wide variety of methods and approaches that take place under the banner of “environmental humanities” and explore how they might be adapted to or engaged by our own writing and research. Prior to our first meeting, we will collaborate to build a reading list for the quarter that is reflective of students’ areas of interest.

2021-2022 Spring

ENGL 56200 Early Modern Critical Race Studies

This course explores the history and developments of Early Modern Critical Race Studies (pre-1700) from the inception of the field in the early 1990s to the present. Students will read classics and new classics on early modern racial formations (including monographs by Kim F. Hall, Ania Loomba, Geraldine Heng, and Patricia Akhimie, among others), while learning about the theoretical and political roots of the field, the stages and controversies that have marked its history, and its major subfields—including presence studies (Imtiaz Habib), performance studies (Ayanna Thompson), and visual culture (Peter Erickson). Students will also learn about the newest directions in which the field is headed, namely, whiteness studies (Arthur Little, David Sterling Brown) and transnational critical race studies

2021-2022 Autumn
Med/Ren

ENGL 56240 Mapping Black Studies

This course contextualizes various schools of thought in the field of Black Studies, including Afrofuturism, Afropessimism, Afronihilism, black optimism, and Afrorealism. Students will read texts by key figures, who might include Saidiya Hartman, Orlando Patterson, Hortense Spillers, Frantz Fanon, Stuart Hall, Kara Keeling, Achille Mbembe, Fred Moten, Sylvia Wynter, Frank Wilderson, Katherine McKittrick, and Jared Sexton.

2021-2022 Winter
20th/21st

ENGL 57750 Race and Literature in the Twilight of Neoliberalism

In this course we will explore the thesis that literary fiction published in the years of the 2010s participates in and signals the end of embedded neoliberalism as a governing consensus.

2021-2022 Spring
20th/21st

ENGL 65007 The Assemblage Mode

Assemblage names a compositional practice in the material, visual, and literary arts. It also names a way of conceptualizing non-aesthetic forms (markets, cities, nation states). This course begins by focusing on the different semantic and pragmatic values of assemblage (in anthropology, urban geography, and social theory); turns its attention to two art exhibitions, The Art of Assemblage (MoMA, 1961), and 66 Signs of Neon (1966), led by Noah Purifoy and consisting of assemblage work made from the detritus of the Watts riots (Aug. 1965); and ultimately concentrates on a history of how and why African American writers and visual artists (such as Jean Toomer, Zora Neal Hurston, Romare Bearden, Ntozake Shange, and Betye Saar) have deployed the assemblage mode.

2021-2022 Autumn