English 165

Special Topics: Law and Literature in the United States


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2020 de Stefano, Jason
MW 12-1:30

Book List

Arendt, Hannah: On Revolution; Douglass, Frederick: Selected Speeches and Writings; Fuller, Margaret: Woman in the Nineteenth Century; Hamilton, Alexander et al.: The Debate on the Constitution, parts 1 and 2 (Library of America)

Other Readings and Media

Additional readings will be provided in a course reader and on bCourses.

Description

This course will introduce students to law and literature studies by exploring the legal and literary culture of the United States from the Declaration of Independence (1776) to Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010). We will focus on issues pertaining to the aesthetics and politics of representation, personhood, private property, and, above all, interpretation. We will examine in particular how discussions and disputes about the right or best way to interpret texts has become central to American jurisprudence and politics as well as to literary study. Our approach will be both historical and theoretical and so our readings will range from transcripts of court hearings and congressional committees to contemporary literary theory and legal philosophy. The goal is to provide a combination of specific methodologies and broad historical sources that will allow students to pursue original research into problems and periods of their choosing. Central topics of discussion will be the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, the rise of corporate capitalism, and conflicts between notions of individual right and social justice. We will discuss texts by James Madison, Frederick Douglass, Margaret Fuller, Herman Melville, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, literary theorists Walter Benn Michaels and Barbara Johnson, philosophers Giorgio Agamben and Hannah Arendt, and others.

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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