English 165

Special Topics: Longing and Belonging in Contemporary Writing


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Fall 2015 Langan, Celeste
MW 3-4:30 305 Wheeler

Book List

Berry, Wendell: Jayber Crow; Berry, Wendell: The Art of the Common Place; Coetzee, J. M.: Disgrace; Cole, Teju: Open City; Hiraide, Takashi: The Guest Cat; Rankine, Claudia: Citizen; Rankine, Claudia: Don't Let Me Be Lonely; Robinson, Marilynne: Housekeeping; Robinson, Marilynne: Lila; Sebald, W. G.: Vertigo; Spahr, Juliana: The Transformation; Yamashita, Karen: I Hotel

Description

This course will interrogate the possible relationships between desire and social position or identity (what I conceive myself to have and to lack) by reading contemporary literature in which longing for (love, sex, wealth, economic or political security) seems in tension with or premised on modes of belonging to (family, property, culture, community, nation, earth, global capitalism).  Beginning with Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely and Citizen, we will ask what it means to (want to) belong (to another), and whether or where writing, as an act of address, is a form of self-possession or self-dispossession. We will read novelists, essayists, and poets for whom place or proximity (neighborhood) is crucial to belonging (Wendell Berry, Marilynne Robinson) as well as those who explore transient, exilic, or indebted modes of longing (Juliana Spahr, Mohsin Hamid, Teju Cole).  My aim is to use longing and belonging to think about how these texts do or do not belong to “the contemporary”; to that end, readings have been selected for range and variety.  We will read “regional” U.S. writing as well as “global Anglophone” writing (and one text translated from Japanese); poetry, prose fiction, and essays on environmental ethics. The class will be conducted as a seminar; students will write two short essays and one final 10-page essay.

 

Other Recent Sections of This Course

spring, 2020

165/1

Special Topics: Elegy, Mourning, and the Representation of the Holocaust

165/2

Special Topics: Enlightenment & Romance: Scotland in the 18th Century

165/3

Special Topics: On Lies, Lying, and Post-Truths--A Reading- and Writing-Intensive Investigation

Nadaff, Ramona

165/4

Special Topics: Family Histories from the Margins

fall, 2019

165/1

Special Topics: Utopian and (mostly) Dystopian Movies

165/2

Special Topics: The Pleasures of Allegory

spring, 2019

165/1

Special Topics: Global Tudors

Honig, Elizabeth

165/2

Special Topics: 21st-Century U. S. Poetry

165/3

Special Topics: John Milton's Last Poems

165/4

Special Topics: The Art of Writing: The Visible Made Verbal

165/5

Special Topics: Note: See English 165 section 6

165/6

Special Topics: Nabokov and Naipaul

165/7

Special Topics: The Materialist Epic

165/8

Special Topics: American Humor

165/9

Special Topics: The 1890s

fall, 2018

165/1

Special Topics: Oscar Wilde and the Nineteenth Century

165/2

Special Topics: The English Department

165/3

Special Topics: Literature and Media Theory

165/4

Special Topics: The Ecology of Utopia

165/5

Special Topics: Reading Walden With Care

165/6

Special Topics: Hardly Strictly Lyric Poems

165/7

Special Topics: Utopian and (mostly) Dystopian Movies

spring, 2018

165/1

Special Topics: H.P. Lovecraft in His Tradition

165/2

Special Topics: Handel's Art in Setting English Words to Music

165/3

Special Topics: Is It Useless To Revolt?

165/4

Special Topics: Neo-Slave Narratives

165/5

Special Topics: Incarcerations: The Literature of (Physical, Mental, Spiritual) Imprisonment


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