Announcement of Classes: Spring 2022


Reading and Composition: Poetics from the Global South

English R1A

Section: 1
Instructor: Dunsker, Leo
Time: MWF 9-10
Location: 204 Dwinelle


Description

This course will focus a range of poetries written in English from what we might broadly call the Global South. Its aim is essentially comparative, tracking similarities and differences – thematic, generic, and stylistic – among this large and diverse corpus of poetry. How do various geographies (political or natural) leave their mark on poems? Where does the "local" end and the "global" begin? How does one write "decolonial" poetry in a colonial society? How can poetry imagine the future or re-imagine the past?

We will read poems by Louise Bennett (Jamaica), Wilson Harris (Guyana), Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), Okot p’Bitek (Uganda), Kofi Awoonor (Ghana), Ee Tiang Hong (Malaysia), Arun Kolatkar (India), and Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Australia), among others. All readings will be distributed digitally.

This course is dedicated ultimately to the cultivation of students’ writing and thinking skills, and so a great deal of time will be devoted to practicing the elementary techniques of summary, synthesis of ideas, and logical argument. Students will complete regular shorter papers in which they will explore the texts and themes of the course, which will become the basis in turn for peer review exercises and written reflections on the process of writing and revision.


Reading and Composition: Animals and Other People

English R1A

Section: 2
Instructor: Bircea, Jason
Time: MWF 10-11
Location: 210 Dwinelle


Book List

Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go

Other Readings and Media

All other readings will be made available online. Possible writers include Christopher Smart, Ann Yearsley, Gilbert White, Robert Burns, Anna Laeitia Barbauld, William Cowper and John Clare.

Description

"How knoweth he by the vertue of his understanding the inward and secret motion of beasts...when I am playing with my cat, who knows whether she has more sport in dallying with me than I have in gaming her."

Michel de Montaigne, An Apology for Raymond Sebond (1569)

 

Later eighteenth-century verse is populated with animals. Poets in the period penned missives, eulogies, odes and petitions on behalf of dogs, cats, mice, sheep, hares and other animals. The poet Christopher Smart, for instance, dedicated a section of his religious poem Jubilate Agno to praising his cat Jeoffrey: “For I will consider my cat Jeoffrey. / For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.” 

Growing interest in the behavior and inner lives of animals was caused, in part, by the later eighteenth-century discourse of sentimentality, which raised the problem of creaturely feeling and emotion (e.g., can animals suffer?) Another was the emerging discipline of natural history, which, as one naturalist from the period explained, sought to describe “properties, manners, and relations, which [the various products of nature] bear to us, and to each other.”

In this class, we’ll explore the shifting status of animals in later eighteenth-century, British culture. In the final stretch of the course, we’ll read Kazuo Ishiguro’s science-ficition novel Never Let Me Go (2005) and consider the continuing relevance of eighteenth-century conceptions of nature, culture and creatureliness.


Reading and Composition: Transpacific Poetry

English R1A

Section: 3
Instructor: Choi, 최 Lindsay || Lindsay Chloe
Time: MWF 11-12
Location: 122 Wheeler


Book List

Adams, Stephen: Poetic Designs: An Introduction to Meters, Verse Forms, and Figures of Speech ; Cha, Theresa Hak Kyung: Exilée and Temps Morts: Selected Works; Nakayasu, Sawako: Mouth: Eats Color; Silko, Leslie Marmon: Ceremony

Other Readings and Media

Other texts will be uploaded to bCourses as .pdf files. These will include essays, poems, and possibly some visual art and/or short stories. Depending on the vote of the class, another novel may be added to the syllabus.

Description

This course focuses on poetry written during the twentieth century across the Pacific Ocean, with a large part of the texts emerging from North America, East and Southeast Asia, and Oceania. Though these works emerge from a variety of national contexts, our goal will be to question and analyze the modes of literary dialogue and aesthesis that appear through inter- and trans-national crossings of the oceanic divide, with an eye toward, particularly, questions of literary form and technique.

The aim of this course will be to exercise our skills in reading and writing on literary texts, and to think critically about our analytic methods, as well as how, why, and to what end we might believe that they work. Students will write, peer-review, and rewrite a series of literary-critical essays, with the goal of fostering attentive reading and viewing, imaginative analysis, and bold writing. As this course fulfills the R1B requirement, we will focus on scaling progressively longer essays and incorporating research.


Reading and Composition

English R1A

Section: 4
Instructor: Trevino, Jason Benjamin
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 204 Dwinelle


Book List

Anzaldúa, Gloria: Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza ; Cuadros, Gil: City Of God; Islas, Arturo: The Rain God

Other Readings and Media

Additional texts will be available through Perusall and, potentially, through an optional course reader. We will also view some films (available through reserves for our course or through widely available websites), both in class or on our own, that will shape our discussions and approaches to our topics.

Description

In this Rhetoric and Composition course, we will explore what it means to “enunciate” ethnic and queer positionality in LGBT and Latinx/Chicanx works. We will explore course materials with an eye to the “slipperiness” of clear enunciation and identity practices. Doing so will allow us to think, talk, and write about historical and contemporary notions of queer and ethnic belonging, separation, invisibility, and vibrancy. We may be encouraged to think about the costs of prescriptive group identification, consequences for not “enunciating” identifications clearly or in line with group articulation, and alternatives to the desire for enunciation itself. Desire will be a keyword. "Desire" for enunciation, belonging, and autonomy will shape much of our thinking in this class as we consult a range of Tejana/o/x, California/o/x, and other U.S. Latinx artistic productions.

This is a Rhetoric and Composition class. In it, we will work to develop effective reading, note-taking, and writing strategies for college writing. We will work on developing our analytical skills through close reading of non-fiction, fiction, and theory/philosophy. This is a writing-intensive course. Students will be asked to practice basic skills required of most college essays including summary, analysis, thesis construction, and text citation. Students will also have the opportunity to write practical documents required across disciplines like proposals, précis, and memos and develop skills in collaborative work with peers through peer-to-peer text review and critique.


Reading and Composition: Asian American Women Writers Across Genre

English R1A

Section: 5
Instructor: Kao, Libby
Time: MWF 1-2
Location: 204 Dwinelle


Book List

Faizullah, Tarfia: Seam; Hong, Cathy Park: Minor Feelings; Joseph, Janine: Driving Without a License; Kingston, Maxine Hong: The Woman Warrior; Miller, Chanel: Know My Name; Shah, Sejal: This is One Way to Dance

Description

What do writings by Asian American* women** have to tell us about emotional labor, transnational intimacies, and hope?

This question serves as the organizing frame for our semester's exploratory journey of critical thinking. We will do our best to situate readings in the broader (immeasurable) aesthetic and political traditions of Asian American history, literature, and culture, but our more urgent focus will be on how to read for, with, and through these three ideas—emotional labor, transnational intimacies, hope—in turn. 

Along the way, we will define what these terms mean, while grounding ourselves in anti-racist, decolonial, intersectional feminist thought. What do we mean by emotional labor—a term first coined by sociologist Arlie Hochschild, neighbor to the Marxist concept of affective labor, crucial to the burgeoning field of affect theory? Transnational intimacies between whom, what, where; and what are these intimacies interrupted or sustained by? How do we responsibly and imaginatively read for hope in literature?

You will build your own theory of these ideas by engaging them across a range of genres we'll traverse and problematize together: the novel, the essay, poetry, memoir, the short story, journalism/ethnography. These aims go hand in hand with the writing-intensive objectives of this R1A composition course: close reading, asking good questions, purposeful discussion — which open up into the argumentation, development, and revision of analytical writing. 

* "Asian American" as shorthand for a much more capacious category, to which Asian North American and the Asian Anglophone are essential.

** "Women" inclusively construed; while trans studies/method is beyond the scope of this class, we will make space for it when exploring questions of gender, sexuality, and identity.

(Note: Please do not buy books until after the first week of class, as the book list may change.)


Reading and Composition: Voyage to the Moon

English R1A

Section: 6
Instructor: Serrano, Joseph
Time: MWF 8-9
Location: 122 Wheeler


Description

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the moon at 1:17 pm, Pacific Time. The moon landing seemed like the very definition of modernity: using cutting-edge technology to cross the boundary between Earth and outer space. But the idea of visiting the moon long predates the Apollo mission; human beings have been speculating about such visits since antiquity and probably before. This class will focus on one particularly intense moment of moon speculation in the 17th, 18th, and 19thc centuries, embodied in a new genre of fiction: accounts of voyages to the moon.

We will read the work of familiar writers--like Galileo Galilei, Cyrano de Bergerac, Jules Verne, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, and Edgar Allan Poe--as well as a number of less-well-known figures, such as Bernard le Bovier de Fontanelle, John Wilkins, Frances Godwin. We will also read the work of Margaret Cavendish--whose Blazing World is regarded as one of the earliest works of science fiction--and Aphra Behn, whose farce The Emporer of the Moon drew large audiences in late 17th-century London. The work of these two writers asks us to think about why a voyage to another world might be particularly appealing to women writers, and more broadly, to those who are disenfranchised and/or outsiders. To help answer these and other questions, we will explore the scientific, political, and historical contexts that gave rise to this interest in traveling to the moon, from the Copernican Revolution (the shift from an earth-centered to a sun-centered model of the solar system), to the influence of recent global exploration and the “discovery” of the New World.


Reading and Composition: Whose Civil War?

English R1A

Section: 7
Instructor: Warren, Noah
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 210 Dwinelle


Book List

Crane, Stephen: The Red Badge of Courage; Morrison, Toni: Beloved; Whitman, Walt: Drum-Taps

Description

This class will explore the many legacies of the American Civil War. Starting with journalistic accounts and poetry from the war itself, and moving forward into novels and films, we'll think through how successive generations of writers from different identity positions—especially Union, Black, and Southern—ground claims about their moment in reinterpretations of this national wound.  


Reading and Composition: Sexual Ethics in Feminism and Fiction

English R1A

Section: 8
Instructor: Nyiri, Jesse
Time: MWF 3-4
Location: 204 Dwinelle


Book List

Defoe, Daniel: Roxana; Dunye, Cheryl: The Watermelon Woman; Fielding, Henry: The Female Husband; Haywood, Eliza: Fantomina; James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw; Rosetti, Christina: Goblin Market; Shaw, George Bernard: Mrs Warren's Profession

Other Readings and Media

Other readings by Immanuel Kant, bell hooks, Gayle Rubin, Catharine MacKinnon, Audre Lorde, Amia Srinivasan, Thomas Laqueur, and Judith Butler will be made available on bCourses.

Description

In this class, we'll read English fiction of the 18th and 19th centuries alongside American feminist writing of the late 20th century to look for answers to the following questions: Can sex be ethical—perhaps even good? Is desire ever sympathetic or benevolent? If not, can selfish sexualities at least be brought together through mutually beneficial exchanges? Do such exchanges make “sexual commerce” seem a little too, you know, commercial for polite society? What other political economies structure and constrain sexual ethics? When prevailing sexual values do more harm than good, what changes might bring about more ethical sexual relations? Would such changes involve changing sex itself? Does that question call for a different answer if “sex” refers to what one is rather than what one does?

This course brings together historically disparate frameworks for thinking about the ethics of sex/gender systems and of sexuality. These unlikely juxtapositions will help us assess the limitations and unintended consequences of the sexual theories we'll encounter. Hopefully, in thinking through constructions that won't work, we will begin to think toward some that could. 

This is a writing-intensive course oriented toward helping students develop complex and precise questions, arguments, and close readings. Regular short responses will accompany a series of formal writing assignments.


Reading and Composition: Sensational Transformations

English R1B

Section: 1
Instructor: Hobbs, Katherine
Time: MWF 9-10
Location: 122 Wheeler


Book List

Collins, Wilkie: The Woman in White; Le Fanu, Sheridan: Uncle Silas; Waters, Sarah: Fingersmith

Other Readings and Media

Additional readings will be made available in pdf form on bCourses. The Handmaiden (dir. Park Chan-wook, 2016) is also requried for this course and is available to rent or purchase on a variety of screening platforms; I will provide further details on the syllabus.

Description

We may think we’re past the Victorian era, but even a cursory look at our contemporary pop culture tells us otherwise. BBC keeps churning out successful period pieces. Sherlock Holmes and Dracula just won’t die. Jane Eyre is constantly recycled in new contexts. And these works aren’t simply regurgitations: the past is always reconstructed, rewritten, and reformed. New perspectives on issues such as race, gender, and class come to light as the past interacts with the present. How does a novel’s legacy and meaning change as new works respond to it? How do authors transform recognizable plot structures and characters into something new? What does it mean that we are still so interested in the characters, tropes, and stories of Victorian literature today? What can we learn about both the past and our own time by exploring a historical period through modern imitative adaptations?

This class will address these questions of Victorian transformation, taking Wilkie Collins’s sensation novel The Woman in White (1859-60) and some of its many afterlives—Victorian and modern—as our case study. Collins’s astronomically popular mystery spawned imitators almost immediately, and rewritings of the novel have not yet stopped. But every adaptation brings different elements to the foreground. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Uncle Silas (1864) weaves aspects of Collins’s legal Gothic into a mystical, atmospheric tale of dread. Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith (2002) is a queer retelling through the eyes of two lesbian main characters. Park Chan-wook’s film The Handmaiden (2016) reimagines Waters’s novel in early twentieth-century Korea. Over the course of the semester, we will trace how these adaptations reframe, transform, and critique Collins’s original. We will also discuss the changing political, social, and literary contexts of these adaptations.

As we consider the legacies of The Woman in White, we will practice our critical writing and research skills. Students will write, workshop, and revise a series of writing assignments over the course of the semester, culminating in a final research paper.


Reading and Composition: Sick

English R1B

Section: 2
Instructor: Cohan, Nathan
Time: MWF 10-11
Location: 122 Wheeler


Book List

Butler, Octavia: Clay's Ark (978-1538751503); Lorde, Audre: The Cancer Journals (978-0143135203); Sontag, Susan: Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors (978-0312420130)

Description

This course teaches reading, writing, and researching skills through a survey of sickness as a bodily and social condition and as a literary resource and mode. Students will practice formal analysis of texts in a variety of media including fiction, memoir, poetry, and film, and will enter existing critical conversations after reading some theories of sickness as a cultural phenomenon and as an ambivalently communicable experience. Topics will include historical conceptions of the body and disease, the healthiness or sickness of literature in general, and fictional, sometimes fantastical diseases. Readings include works by Giovanni Boccaccio, John Donne, Virginia Woolf, Susan Sontag, Audre Lorde, and Octavia Butler; viewings include works by Forugh Farrokhzad, Marlon Riggs, Todd Haynes, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Students will write, peer-review, and rewrite a series of literary-critical essays, with the goal of fostering attentive reading and viewing, imaginative analysis, and bold writing. As this course fulfills the R1B requirement, we will focus on scaling progressively longer essays and incorporating research.


Reading and Composition: The Poetry of California

English R1B

Section: 3
Instructor: Nathan, Jesse
Time: MWF 10-11
Location: 204 Dwinelle


Description

Poetry won’t give you the news, as William Carlos Williams said, and it won’t tell you how to avoid traffic in Los Angeles or where to find the best burritos in the Mission. But it can offer a profound glimpse into the spirit—or spirits—of a place. California, land of wondrous natural resources and state shaped by big visions and reckless desires, is no exception. To ask what kind of poetry is made in this state is to ask what kind of poetry California is. Artists of all sorts have long thrived in the Golden State. Why? What have they found here? How have they described it, defined it, or challenged its myths and failings? In this introductory course, we’ll read through the history and zeitgeist of California by way of its poetry, from the art’s roots here to its present-day possibilities, searching as we go for the California dream, for its meaning and its magic and its waking reality.

The broader purpose of this course is to develop your critical reading and writing skills, whatever your major might be. Over the semester, you’ll write and revise three papers of increasing length, which will include library research. We will explore how to research literary topics, how to use the library, and how to incorporate research in your essays. We’ll study the summary and synthesis of materials we read, the construction of logical and persuasive arguments, the conveying of attitudes and information. You’ll learn by practicing these skills, by thinking about and talking about your own efforts and those of your fellow students, and by analyzing the work of other writers.


Reading and Composition: The Poetry of California

English R1B

Section: 4
Instructor: Nathan, Jesse
Time: MWF 11-12
Location: 204 Dwinelle


Description

Poetry won’t give you the news, as William Carlos Williams said, and it won’t tell you how to avoid traffic in Los Angeles or where to find the best burritos in the Mission. But it can offer a profound glimpse into the spirit—or spirits—of a place. California, land of wondrous natural resources and state shaped by big visions and reckless desires, is no exception. To ask what kind of poetry is made in this state is to ask what kind of poetry California is. Artists of all sorts have long thrived in the Golden State. Why? What have they found here? How have they described it, defined it, or challenged its myths and failings? In this introductory course, we’ll read through the history and zeitgeist of California by way of its poetry, from the art’s roots here to its present-day possibilities, searching as we go for the California dream, for its meaning and its magic and its waking reality.

The broader purpose of this course is to develop your critical reading and writing skills, whatever your major might be. Over the semester, you’ll write and revise three papers of increasing length, which will include library research. We will explore how to research literary topics, how to use the library, and how to incorporate research in your essays. We’ll study the summary and synthesis of materials we read, the construction of logical and persuasive arguments, the conveying of attitudes and information. You’ll learn by practicing these skills, by thinking about and talking about your own efforts and those of your fellow students, and by analyzing the work of other writers.


Reading and Composition: Dreaming on Paper: Exceptional Mental States and the Written Word

English R1B

Section: 5
Instructor: Furcall, Dylan
Time: MWF 11-12
Location: 210 Dwinelle


Book List

The Book of Margery Kempe; Carrington, Leonora : The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington; Chaucer, Geoffrey: The House of Fame; De Quincey, Thomas: Confessions of an English Opium Eater; Ellison, Ralph: Invisible Man; Freud , Sigmund: The Interpretation of Dreams; Kurosawa, Akira: Dreams; Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: Reveries of the Solitary Walker

Description

What do we mean when we say that a text is “dreamlike?” We often appeal to this description when the text with which we are engaging is strange, experimental, or transgresses normative expectations. And yet to compare a novel, a film, or a painting to a dream tends to raise more questions than it answers. What is the relationship between our dreams and the waking experiences from which dreams are thought to gather their content? What rules or patterns do dreams follow, and to what extent can these formal tendencies be imitated or evoked in writing?  In this course, we will consider what the American psychologist and philosopher William James broadly termed “exceptional mental states,” a category comprising not only dreams but such  out-of-the-ordinary experiences as religious exultation, hallucination, trance, and meditation. Our interest is not so much to determine what these states of experiential exception fundamentally are from a scientific standpoint, but to explore how and to what ends (whether political, psychological, or aesthetic) writers and artists have sought to emulate and even produce them.

We will survey a broad range of texts (predominantly Western) that participate in this discourse and will consider their formal, generic, and historical specificities: from medieval dream visions (Geoffrey Chaucer’s “House of Fame”) and autobiographies (The Book of Margery Kempe) to clinical and theoretical writings of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams and William James’ “Subjective Effects of Nitrous Oxide”), philosophical meditations of the enlightenment (Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Reveries of the Solitary Walker) to surrealist fiction (Leonora Carrington’s stories), episodic films (Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams and Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room) to dream journals (such as Franz Kafka’s). Other objects of study will include passages from Plato’s Republic, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon, and poems by John Ashbery and Bernadette Mayer.

Over the course of the semester students will draft and revise a research paper pursuing a subset of the class’s materials and questions. Indeed, our goal will not be to master these materials (heterogenous and difficult as they are) but rather to develop and sustain lines of critical inquiry. We will cultivate our skills of textual and cultural analysis, composition, argumentation, research, and source evaluation. Some attention will be devoted to the application of these skills beyond the domain of literary interpretation. We will also compose dream journals.


Reading and Composition: Silence

English R1B

Section: 6
Instructor: D'Silva, Eliot
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 233 Dwinelle


Book List

Beckett, Samuel: Waiting for Godot; Cage, John: Silence; Cusk, Rachel: Coventry; Scott, Judith: Bound and Unbound

Other Readings and Media

Cain, Susan: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking; Reichardt, Kelly: Wendy and Lucy

Description

How do writers have words to describe silence? How does silence evade speech while also being produced by it? How does silence seek expression in language, metaphors and images? This course tracks the ways in which writers and artists have employed silence both as a literary technique and as a major theme in their works, from the 1950s to the present. We will read texts that engage silence not as an absence of language but as a product of power relations and as a response to the unknown, ineffable and aporetic aspects of existence. The course will also put these texts in dialogue with reflections on silence in affect theory, disability studies and narratology. As an R1B course, the course will provide opportunities for students to pose analytical questions, construct arguments supported by evidence and undertake scholarly research. Over the semester, students will complete assignments including annotated bibliographies, independent and collaborative close analysis, library visits, and a final paper on one of our texts. There might also be opportunities to respond to creative prompts that build on the key terms and concepts of the course, such as keeping a meditation journal. Readings and screenings will include work by Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Rachel Cusk, Kelly Reichardt and Judith Scott.


Reading and Composition: Petrofiction and Climate Fiction

English R1B

Section: 11
Instructor: Beckett, Balthazar I.
Time: MWF 1-2
Location: 225 Dwinelle


Description

In 1992, Amitav Ghosh observed that, despite the ubiquity of petroleum in our lives, oil has “produced scarcely a single [literary] work of note.” And in 2006, commenting on the destruction caused by fossil fuels, Ghosh added that “climate change casts a much smaller shadow within the landscape of literary fiction than it does even in the public arena.” Other scholars have pointed out that, in their lack of critical engagement with worsening climate chaos, literature—and the humanities at large—are at risk of becoming obsolete. Heeding this call, this course will investigate the footprint that fossil fuel extraction has left on literature from a variety of geographical contexts, ranging from Bedouin communities in Saudi Arabia to Native American tribes in Oklahoma, and how literary texts address the challenges of global warming. We will read both non-fiction and fiction of various genres—from the realism of Upton Sinclair and John Steinbeck to the dystopian novels of Octavia Butler and the emerging genre of climate fiction (Cli-Fi).

Building on the skills students acquired in R1A, this course will continue to develop reading, writing, and research skills with the aim to practice writing longer essays that are rhetorically aware and partake in relevant scholarly conversations. Students will conclude this course by submitting a research paper in which they will partake in a scholarly debate that they feel passionate about.


Reading and Composition: Fictions of Time, Space, Memory

English R1B

Section: 12
Instructor: Vinyard Boyle, Elizabeth
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 225 Dwinelle


Book List

Brontë, Emily: Wuthering Heights; Morrison, Toni: Beloved; Verne, Jules: Journey to the Center of the Earth; Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway; de Lafayette, Mme.: The Princesse de Clèves

Other Readings and Media

Shorter readings will include selections from Sappho, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, and Gertrude Stein; Plato, Lucretius, Galileo, Newton, and the British Royal Society; David Hume and Immanuel Kant; Niels Bohr, Erwin Schrödinger, and Karen Barad; Jorge Luis Borges, Samuel Beckett, and Gérard Genette.  These will be made available as pdfs and as a printed course reader.

Description

Does literature speculate, or theorize?  How does the history of the novel shadow – or shape – an idea of reality that modern science takes as given?  Does the existence of fictional worlds alter the material one that we inhabit?  How does memory compose the experience of human history?

Such questions will guide our explorations for this course, which will begin by situating our own moment within a history of physical experiment and theory – of the disconnect between human experience and our knowledge or vision of the cosmos – in order to appreciate the complexity of literature’s investigations of its own aesthetic powers of representation.  Does the poem expand as a dilated moment, or as a little room in which its reader may dwell?  How do spaces collapse or bend in the novel, and what happens when characters investigate the limits of its strange physics, or the precarity of their contingent durations?  As we travel this history, we will encounter experimental and experiential fictions that ask us to consider the relation of temporal, spoken utterance to the space of the page, as well as the power of language to reflect upon its own acts of imaginative conjuring.  We will ask not only how literature examines or anticipates material philosophy, but also how it interrogates our perception of a bounded, rule-governed world in the very nature of its correspondences.

We will read broadly and deeply, plumbing an expanse from ancient philosophy, to early modern science and historical fiction, to poetic and narrative theory, to modern works that bend our notion of what it takes to hold time and space together.  Much of our time will be devoted to reading and writing on our core novels, works that will unsettle our normal habits of thought including through depictions of gendered and racial violence.  We will compose a series of papers of increasing length and complexity, culminating in a research project that engages with one of our central texts.  As we work with our own writing alongside that of our authors, we will think of the material boundedness of self-narration as an ongoing and iterative process, situating our readerly perceptions within longer (and very short) historical durations, ruptures, and wrinkles.  We will also develop a place to dwell in our own writing, again and again, coming to terms with and at moments even transcending the situatedness of our own time.


Reading and Composition: Passing Narratives

English R1B

Section: 14
Instructor: Elias, Gabrielle
Time: TTh 8-9:30
Location: 122 Wheeler


Description

This course will focus on passing narratives, stories, in which, a character is perceived as belonging to a racial or ethnic group different from their own. In particular, we will direct our attention to a series of twentieth-century texts that explore a multiracial character’s decision to “pass” for white. In conversation with those texts, we will investigate what passing narratives reveal about the performance of identity, the (in)stability of identity categories, and the anxieties that surface when the rigidity of those categories is called into question. We will also discuss key topics, like community, belonging, isolation, and visibility, which our texts have in common. 

Building on those readings, we will also think about the passing narrative in relation to genre, moving from tragedy to melodrama to mystery to science-fiction. Through that work, we will interrogate the flexibility of the passing narrative, questioning its continued popularity and varied forms. 

This course is also centered on composition; you will complete a series of writing assignments designed to help you think through the course’s main ideas and to help you develop your writing and research skills. 

 

Texts likely to include: James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Jessie Redmon Fauset’s There Is Confusion, Nella Larsen’s Passing, Langston Hughes’ “Passing,” Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress

Films likely to include: Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner


Reading and Composition: Genres of Dispossession

English R1B

Section: 15
Instructor: Geary, Christopher
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location: 122 Wheeler


Book List

Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe; Federici, Silvia: Caliban and the Witch; Marx, Karl: Capital, Volume One (Penguin); More, Thomas: Utopia

Other Readings and Media

Additional readings will be made available on bCourses. These will likely include shorter texts or excerpts by Vasco de Quiroga, John Locke, Adam Smith, Ellen Meiksins Wood, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Peter Kropotkin, Rosa Luxemburg, David Harvey, William Clare Roberts, Robert Nichols, Eric Williams, Cedric Robinson, Stuart Hall, Maria Mies, Silvia Federici, Glen Coulthard, Nick Estes, Sarah Hogan, Walter Benjamin, Fredric Jameson, Michael McKeon, Sal Nicolazzo, and Carolyn Lesjak.

Description

How did capitalism begin? There is so much at stake in this question – above all, perhaps, some clues as to what capitalism really is and how it will end. While many have presumed that capitalism arose naturally and inevitably, and that it represents a high point in the progress of the human species, more critical voices have long noted the violent dispossessions from which our present socio-economic system emerged and the equally intense violence and dispossession with which it is maintained. As one of those voices, Karl Marx, observed, the history of capitalism’s origins is “written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire.”

In this course, we will read some of these critical reflections on the origins of capitalism and the role of violence and dispossession in shaping and sustaining it, beginning with Marx’s own account of that beginning, or what he terms “primitive accumulation.” We will then turn to some more contemporary thinkers of imperialism, patriarchy, racial capitalism, settler colonialism, and neoliberalism who critique, rework, and extend Marx’s idea of primitive accumulation to account for different forms of dispossession under capitalism, particularly from feminist, Black, and Indigenous perspectives.

Alongside these theoretical readings, we will consider how this history written in blood and fire was also written in ink. How did the transition to capitalism shape new literary genres such as utopia and the novel? How have different forms of dispossession taken literary form? And how have literary texts themselves critically reflected on the bloody and fiery history of our present? Some of the key literary texts we will initially consider in this light will be Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), but you will also have to choose your own literary text to work with over the course of the semester for your final project.

This is because, through our shared theoretical and literary readings, you will be developing your skills as a critical thinker, researcher, and writer. As an R1B, our pedagogical focus will be on helping you become able to write outstanding research essays. Accordingly, you will be writing, workshopping, and revising a series of assignments throughout the semester, building towards and culminating in a research essay on your chosen literary text. Initial assignments will help you practice textual analysis and entering a critical conversation; later ones will help you develop a research question and a thesis and help you practice outlining and drafting long-form writing projects. Over the course of the semester, you will also be compiling an annotated bibliography of all of our theoretical readings, both to help you practice researching a topic and for you to draw on as a resource for your final project.


Reading and Composition: Rewriting Epic

English R1B

Section: 16
Instructor: Ripplinger, Michelle
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location: 204 Dwinelle


Book List

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Greenlaw, Lavinia: A Double Sorrow: A Version of Troilus and Criseyde; Headley , Maria Dahvana (trans.): Beowulf: A New Translation; Ishiguro, Kazuo: The Buried Giant; Ovid: Metamorphoses; Shakespeare, William: Troilus and Cressida; Wilson , Emily (trans.): The Odyssey

Other Readings and Media

Additional readings may include selections from Statius, Thebaid; the Old English "elegies"; Toni Morrison; Phillis Wheatley; and Danez Smith, as well as the 2021 film adaptation of The Green Knight.

Description

“Bro!” So begins a recent translation of Beowulf. Not with a solemn “So.” or an exclamatory “Listen!”, but rather with a playful invitation to reconsider the epic from a feminist standpoint, as a “bro story.” In this course, we’ll take this invitation seriously, as we study classical epic and its reception from antiquity to the later Middle Ages. As we’ll discover, this literary history is not simply a story about the preservation of tradition; to the contrary, it long has been characterized by rewriting, revision, even antagonism. Just as Ovid tempers the objectivity of male-centered epic by including female-voiced complaints in his hexameter Metamorphoses, so, too, the medieval romance genre takes shape by reimagining epic from a different point of view. As we study this reception history, we also will place these ancient and medieval works in conversation with the rich tradition of Black classicisms, as well as with medievalisms in the present moment. We conclude by reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight alongside Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant.

While the medieval reception of classical epic will be our primary subject, the underlying object will be to grow as critical readers and to learn to write more clearly and persuasively about difficult and complex topics. This course will teach you how to pose analytical questions, develop complex arguments supported by evidence, and build research skills applicable to other college writing as well as writing outside the university. The course will consist of three assignments: a short paper of literary analysis, a more substantial research paper, and a final creative project. In this final creative project, you will have the opportunity to place this premodern history of ideas in conversation with the present, and to consider what potential it might hold for us now.


Reading and Composition: Petrofiction and Climate Fiction

English R1B

Section: 17
Instructor: Beckett, Balthazar I.
Time: MWF 8-9
Location: 301 Wheeler


Description

In 1992, Amitav Ghosh observed that, despite the ubiquity of petroleum in our lives, oil has “produced scarcely a single [literary] work of note.” And in 2006, commenting on the destruction caused by fossil fuels, Ghosh added that “climate change casts a much smaller shadow within the landscape of literary fiction than it does even in the public arena.” Other scholars have pointed out that, in their lack of critical engagement with worsening climate chaos, literature—and the humanities at large—are at risk of becoming obsolete. Heeding this call, this course will investigate the footprint that fossil fuel extraction has left on literature from a variety of geographical contexts, ranging from Bedouin communities in Saudi Arabia to Native American tribes in Oklahoma, and how literary texts address the challenges of global warming. We will read both non-fiction and fiction of various genres—from the realism of Upton Sinclair and John Steinbeck to the dystopian novels of Octavia Butler and the emerging genre of climate fiction (Cli-Fi).

Building on the skills students acquired in R1A, this course will continue to develop reading, writing, and research skills with the aim to practice writing longer essays that are rhetorically aware and partake in relevant scholarly conversations. Students will conclude this course by submitting a research paper in which they will partake in a scholarly debate that they feel passionate about.


Reading and Composition: Writing Modern Egypt

English R1B

Section: 18
Instructor: Beckett, Balthazar I.
Time: TuTh 3:30-5
Location: 301 Wheeler


Description

Egyptians often refer to their nation as أم الدنيا, the “mother of the world.” And Egypt has historically featured prominently in the western imaginary—from the legend of the Library of Alexandria to Napoleon’s invasion to the exploits of nineteenth-century Egyptologists. But Egypt’s history over the course of the past one hundred years is an intriguing one as well, as it features three revolutions—1919, 1952, and 2011—and changing (and often overlapping) contexts of colonialism, cosmopolitanism, changing gender norms, pan-Arab nationalism, socialism, neoliberalism, and authoritarianism. In the 1960s, for instance, Cairo becomes home to a sizable African American expat community, which, for a brief time, included Malcolm X. What is more, this tumultuous history has been chronicled in fascinating works of fiction and films by both Egyptian and foreign writers and filmmakers, including Naguid Mahfouz, E.M. Forster, Lawrence Durrell, Edward Said, Waguih Ghali, Youssef Chahine, Stratis Tsirkas, Shirley Du Bois, Ibrahim Abdel Meguid, Ahdaf Soueif, Mohamed Diab, and Omar Robert Hamilton. In Egypt’s recent history and in our response to it, one could argue, there are important lessons to be learned for us in the United States.

Building on the skills students acquired in R1A, this course will continue to develop reading, writing, and research skills with the aim to practice writing longer essays that are rhetorically aware and partake in relevant scholarly conversations. Students will conclude this course by submitting a research paper in which they will partake in a scholarly debate that they feel passionate about.