English 190

Research Seminar: Literature and the Linguistic Turn

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Spring 2017 Blevins, Jeffrey
MWF 12-1 39 Evans Research Seminars

Other Readings and Media

See below.


In the early twentieth century, philosophers began to suspect that all their ancient problems—from the riddle of selfhood to the mystery of other minds to the imprecision of sensation—were actually problems with language. We could fix everything, they thought, if only we could speak more clearly. And so, they concluded, philosophy had better become devoted to the study of language. This “linguistic turn” occurred simultaneously with the advent of literary modernism, which itself emphasized the fact of language by experimenting with grammar and syntax. However, unlike philosophers of the linguistic turn, modernists immediately recognized that this swerve into language created more (and richer) problems than it solved, because language is inherently ambiguous and paradoxical. Thus, we will see that modernist literature predicts the linguistic turn’s eventual demise at the hands of poststructural theorists decades later.

We will read works of modernist literature alongside philosophical sources in order to understand how philosophers and authors simultaneously worked through (often while in close personal and professional intimacy) issues with language like: vagueness/exactitude, denotation/connotation, figuration, metaphor, reference, description, naming, and sense/nonsense. Our focus throughout the course will be less on how modernists received philosophical ideas about language and more on how they manipulated and extended these ideas into new aesthetic and stylistic protocols.

We will read authors such as: Amiri Baraka, Samuel Beckett, Hart Crane, T.S. Eliot, William Faulkner, E.M. Forster, Robert Frost, Henry James, James Joyce, Marianne Moore, Charles Olson, Ezra Pound, Thomas Pynchon, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Virginia Woolf, and W.B. Yeats.

We will read philosophers and theorists such as: Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Gottlob Frege, Edmund Husserl, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, J.S. Mill, C.S. Peirce, Richard Rorty, Bertrand Russell, Ferdinand Saussure, Wilfred Sellars, A.N. Whitehead, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Additionally, we will screen a number of films and plays that foreground language as a philosophical issue.

Please read the paragraph about English 190 on page 2 of the instructions area of this Announcement of Classes for more details about enrolling in or wait-listing for this course.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Spring, 2019
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Flann O'Brien and Irish Literature Flynn, Catherine
190/2 Research Seminar: Transsexual Literatures and Cultures Lavery, Grace
190/3 Research Seminar: James / Baldwin Best, Stephen M.
190/5 Research Seminar: California Books and Movies Since World War I Starr, George A.
190/6 Research Seminar: Carnal Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Literature Miller, Jasmin
190/7 Research Seminar Stancek, Claire Marie
190/8 Research Seminar: Edgar Allan Poe Breitwieser, Mitchell
190/9 Research Seminar: Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln Otter, Samuel
190/10 Research Seminar: Emily Dickinson Shoptaw, John
190/11 Research Seminar: Willa Cather Breitwieser, Mitchell
190/13 Research Seminar: Sixties Cinema Knapp, Jeffrey
190/14 Research Seminar Miller, D.A.
Fall, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Melville in the 50s Goldsmith, Steven
190/2 Research Seminar: Laughter and Vision: Explorations in the Novel of Ideas Danner, Mark
190/3 Research Seminar: Representations of Coercion and Resistance in African American Slave, Jim Crow, and Neo-slave Narratives JanMohamed, Abdul R.
190/4 Research Seminar: William Blake Goldstein, Amanda Jo
190/7 Research Seminar: The Urban Postcolonial Ellis, Nadia
190/8 Research Seminar: Repression and Resistance Gonzalez, Marcial
190/9 Research Seminar: Mark Twain Griffin, Ben
190/10 Research Seminar No instructor assigned yet.
190/11 Research Seminar No instructor assigned yet.
190/12 Research Seminar: California Books and Movies Since World War I Starr, George A.
190/13 Research Seminar: The Jamesian Novel Hale, Dorothy J.
190/14 Research Seminar Miller, Jennifer
Spring, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Trials of Literature: Romanticism, Justice, and the Law Langan, Celeste
190/2 Research Seminar: James Joyce Flynn, Catherine
190/3 Research Seminar: Hawthorne & Melville Tamarkin, Elisa
190/4 Research Seminar: Reading Walden Carefully Breitwieser, Mitchell
190/5 Research Seminar: Harlem Renaissance Wagner, Bryan
190/6 Research Seminar: Sixty Years Since: The Historical Novel Kolb, Margaret
190/7 Research Seminar: Contemporary Historical Fiction Yoon, Irene
190/8 Research Seminar: Literary Theory and Its Objects Creasy, CFS
190/9 Research Seminar: The Faerie Queene: The Ethics of Imagination Landreth, David
190/10 Research Seminar: Pagan Fictions in Christian Literature Hobson, Jacob
190/11 Research Seminar: Andrew Marvell Picciotto, Joanna M
190/12 Research Seminar: California Books and Movies Since World War I Starr, George A.
190/13 Research Seminar: Alfred Hitchcock Bader, Julia
Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Britain in the ‘60s Gang, Joshua
190/2 Research Seminar: The Historical Novel Puckett, Kent
190/3 Research Seminar: Another Day in Purgatory: Irish Literature and the Afterlife Creasy, CFS
190/6 Research Seminar: Literature and Revolution Lee, Steven S.
190/7 Research Seminar: Monsters, Exiles, and Outlaws in Medieval Literature Hobson, Jacob
190/8 Research Seminar: George Eliot and the Realist Novel Kolb, Margaret
190/9 Research Seminar: Historiography and Narrative: Literature and the Interstices of History Jones, Donna V.
190/10 Research Seminar: Suspicious Mind Best, Stephen M.
190/11 Research Seminar: Nonsense Hanson, Kristin
190/12 Research Seminar: Making Memories Yoon, Irene
Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: The Urban Postcolonial Ellis, Nadia
190/2 Research Seminar: Harlem Renaissance Wagner, Bryan
190/4 Research Seminar: Jane Austen and the Theory of the Novel Miller, D.A.
190/5 Research Seminar: Writing a World in Crisis: Medieval and Modern Perry, R. D.
190/6 Research Seminar: Shakespeare: From the Globe to the Global Bahr, Stephanie M
190/7 Research Seminar: Place-Love: Fiction and the Melancholy of Form Xin, Wendy Veronica
190/8 Research Seminar: Literatures of the Ocean Sorensen, Janet
190/9 Research Seminar: Beowulf Thornbury, Emily V.
190/10 Research Seminar: Hollywood in the 1930s Knapp, Jeffrey
190/11 Research Seminar: The Literature of Immortality Jones, Donna V.
190/13 Research Seminar: California Literature & Film Since WWI Starr, George A.

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