Asian American and African American Interactions
Ever since the category Asian-American emerged as a politicized identity in the 1960s, the major pedagogical imperative has been to study the literature and culture of this group on its own in order to legitimize the field itself and to understand its common histories and tropes. Similarly, African-American literature, affected by legacies of slavery and resistance, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights, has been conventionally seen as discrete and studied through different forms such as slave narratives, the literature of the Harlem Renaissance or that of the Black Arts movement. Yet from the very beginnings of major waves of Asian immigration, the two groups have been affected by and interacted with each other. This course seeks to understand the nature of these exchanges through key theoretical readings on race, scholarship on these interrelationships, and literary and filmic expressions. Some of the questions we will attempt to grapple with will be the following: How do Asian-Americans see African-Americans and vice versa? What cultural characteristics and histories do they share? How have they been treated as minorities? What are their differences and how have they manifested themselves? What kinds of alliances have these groups created? How have both groups negotiated their Americanness? Ultimately, the course stresses the importance of interethnic studies.
Possible Texts: Eds. Mullen and Ho Afro-Asia, Ed. Robert Gooding-Williams Reading Rodney King, Reading Urban Uprising, W.E.B. Du Bois The Dark Princess, Nina Revoyr, Southland, Anna Deveare Smith Twilight USA, Nora Okja Keller Fox Girl, Frank Chin Chickencoop Chinaman, Berry Gordy The Last Dragon, Paul Beatty White Boy Shuffle. I will also put critical readings online.
Requirements: Class presentations, 4-5 short reaction papers, 20 page research paper.
Graduate Fiction Workshop
This is an intensive fiction writing workshop for graduate students in the MFA program in Creative Writing. Reading varies, but will probably consist of short novels. Although most of the writers who take this workshop focus on the short story, the submission of novel excerpts is welcome.
Forms: Fiction: The Novella
This class will explore fictional forms—point of view, voice, plot, scene, character, and structure. The semester will be divided between lectures and workshops. Each student will create a basic outline for a novella and then proceed to experiment with different approaches to that story, putting into practice all the elements of narrative. Reading will be assigned weekly.
Graduate Workshop in the Translation of Poetry
“Poetry is what’s lost in the translation,” Robert Frost is famously supposed to have said. Regardless of whether or not he actually did say it (none of the assiduous researches devoted to the subject have managed to come up with an original text), it’s an assumption that will be discussed and challenged in this class. During this semester students will be asked to translate a minimum of six poems from another language. Before, during, and after the work of translation, we will discuss a variety of issues involved in the endeavor, such as 1) whether or not a fluent understanding of the original language is necessary to the translator; 2) how the foreign literary landscape influences the work of translation; 3) how one deals with the challenges of form; 4) are translations transcriptions? representations? 5) issues of music, rhythm, speech, drama, nuance, punctuation, etc. We will also read and discuss passages on the theory of translation. Each student will be required to lead one class discussion on the readings, and every week we will workshop students’ translations, as per the regular workshop format. Final folders should include six revised translations of the chosen poet’s work.
Students who are not perfectly fluent in their chosen language must engage the services of a native speaker to help them with the literal trots. Graduate students or professors in other university programs are often very happy to help.
Graduate Poetry Workshop
Keep your mind off the poetry and on the pajamas and everything will be all right.
―Gregory Peck, Roman Holiday
Alexandre Dumas fils, the health-obsessed son of a famous father, …agonizes over half a sentence for a year, “and then his father arrives from Naples and says: ‘Get me a cutlet and I’ll write your play for you,’ writes the scenario, brings in a whore, borrows some money and goes off again.”
―New York Review of Books, 15 February 2007
Carmichael: It’s awfully hard to live poetry, ma’am.
Dove: Goodbye, Mr. Carmichael.
“I have two acting styles. With and without a horse.”
“Dang! This is the worst doughnut I ever did eat!”
Country-and western singer Bill Monroe, eating his first bagel
―Burkhard Bilger, New Yorker, May 14, 2007
We will find a place for frivolity and fecklessness within the seriousness of verse and hope that within our studies cheerfulness will keep breaking in. The workshop will include readings in the poetry of the past century as well as the poetry of the age, and we will spend a few weeks on versification. Readings in contemporary and modern American, British, and Irish poetry, and meticulous discussion of your own delightful work. Also, practical dentistry and lock-picking.
an anthology of modern poetry
four volumes of postwar contemporary poetry
James McAuley, Versification
Cinematography: Analysis and Theory
This Graduate seminar on camerawork will focus films shot by innovative cinematographers at key junctures in film history. We will develop an understanding of the historical changes in cinema cameras, in film stock, in lighting, and in dollies, cranes, and steadicams, and how these technical variations grew into different styles of cinematography. We will consider cinematographers as active creators of filmic artistry, even though their contributions are sometimes assumed to be those of film directors: therefore we will focus on some of the great names in cinematography, such as Billy Bitzer, Karl Struss, James Wong Howe, Sven Nykvest, Gordon Willis, Nestor Almendros, Eduard Tisse, Raoul Coutard, Asakazu Nakai, Tôichirô Narushima, and many others. We will watch a film a week to explore in depth the camerawork in the context of that film, but we will also work with many other brief clips as examples in seminar. Certainly questions of style such as the length of a take, camera movement, camera angles, and depth of field will be our concern throughout. The seminar will invite active participation and on the Canvas website. Participants will write both short papers on specific camerawork segments, and a final longer essay. Diverse theories of representation, and the relationship of visual signifiers and composition to the exploration of meaning will be interogated. Developing excellent research and writing skills will be a focus.
Books: A Hidden History of Film Style: Cinematographers, Directors, and the Collaborative Process, Christopher Beach
Making Pictures : a Century of European Cinematography
Cinematography edited by Patrick Keating
Victorian Genders and the Novel: Masculinities
This course will focus on Victorian genders with a special emphasis on masculinities, especially as manifested at mid century (mostly the 1840s–1870s) in the novel. Additionally, we will spend time reading and thinking about secondary works which interrogate and historicize our principal terms. Many of you have indicated interest in gender issues generally and specifically in masculinities, a topic which has received increasing attention in recent years. By the end of the course, you will have read a substantial amount of important secondary work regarding mid-century masculinities, as well as a good selection of both canonical and less-known Victorian novels.
- Carlyle, Heroes and Hero Worship
- Gaskell, North and South
- Hughes, Tom Brown’s Schooldays
- Meredith, Ordeal of Richard Feverel
- Ouida, Under Two Flags
- Collins, Man and Wife
- Kingsley, Westward Ho
- Pater, “Diapheneite” (1864) and “Winckelmann” (1867) [two short essays-handout]
- Darwin, From Selection in Relation to Sex (vII, Part II, Chapters XIX–XXI: “Secondary Sexual Characters of Man” (two chapters) and “General Summary and Conclusion” 1871
- Haggard, She 1886
- Sedgwick, Between Men
- Adams, Dandies and Desert Saints
- Foucault, History of Sexuality vI
The course will focus on novels (probably seven or eight) and secondary readings about gender and especially masculinity. Most of these readings will be critical and historical, rather than theoretical stricto sensu, and so you should either be familiar with basic concepts in gender theory or be prepared to do a little extra reading on your own. However, the class discussion will be tailored to (and by) the class members, so you if need to know more about something, please ask. I would also like to emphasize that, although the course will focus on the construction of masculinity in the period, that topic cannot be discussed without reference to female identity, class, and sexuality, among other issues. The use of the plural in the course title is not simply a convention; it reflects the imbrication of gender with other identity categories, despite the increasing sense of a widely shared masculine “essence” which marks the period and which it left as a legacy. In short, I expect seminar conversation to be rather wide-ranging.
Requirements include regular attendance and participation, eight short (1–2 page) responses to the reading, posted to the class email list, substantial contributions to discussion of response papers over email, one full length paper (21–25 pages), and possibly one formal oral presentation (based on outside reading).
Response papers are due each week. You may choose which eight weeks you will turn something in, but please do not turn them in late. Response papers should be circulated and shared; you must post them electronically at least 48 hours before class. (I will create an email list for the class, to which you may post papers, responses, questions, etc.) Response papers should be short (one to two pages), focused essays which engage the reading (primary, secondary or both) directly.
You are also expected to contribute substantively to discussion on the list, as well as, of course, in class. The class will be conducted as a seminar; each member will be expected to speak during each class meeting and to discuss collegially with other class members. I will contribute as a discussion facilitator and resource person, but not, generally, as a lecturer. You should plan to use the class to explore and expand your own research interests wherever possible. If you would like to tailor your final project for a particular purpose (dissertation chapter, for example), please let me know.
Panama Silver, Asian Gold: Reimagining Diasporas, Archives, and the Humanities
Panama Silver, Asian Gold: Reimagining Diasporas, Archives, and the Humanities (previously titled “Overlapping Diasporas and the Digital Archive”)
This seminar introduces students to the use of digital humanities and traditional historical research methods in literary analysis by examining two often overlooked migrations: the immigration of indentured Chinese and Indians to the Caribbean to prop up the plantation economy after emancipation (1838-1917) and the emigration of Caribbeans to Panama to build the railroad and Canal between 1850 and 1914. Both immigrant groups formed new diasporic communities – with Indian and Chinese communities across the Caribbean and Caribbean communities along the Latin American coast. Both groups worked under difficult conditions for exploitative wages. Yet both managed to accumulate savings that bankrolled their entry into the educated middle class. In the Caribbean, their political aspirations influenced the formation of nationalism and labor movements, troubled the social hierarchy and identity construction, and shaped cultural practices, contributing to the emergence of national literature by producing a larger literate middle class and by inspiring a host of literary tropes, such as such swaggering, profligate Colón Man and avaricious Indian patriarch. However, it is important to recognize these Caribbean migrations as part of a larger phenomenon: In this period, millions emigrated from China, India, and the Caribbean to build the infrastructure for the modern age – railroads across the United States, Latin America, and East Africa—and the Panama Canal. Products of the growth of US imperial power and of the reorganization of the British Empire, these migrations intersected, forming the heterogeneous, transnational proletariat necessary to this new phase of empire and capitalism.
In the Caribbean, the significance of these migration as well as their interrelation have not been recognized. Immigrants were marginalized in colonial archives produced by and for the British Empire and the Imperial United States. Even dominant narratives of Caribbean national historiography and literary history seldom recognize their full significance.
However, we now find ourselves in an exciting position in regard to understanding the experiences of immigrants and changing the dominant narratives about them. Contemporary Caribbean authors are writing about them. Caribbean literature written during the Canal construction and close to the period of indenture is now becoming available online and through reprints. As importantly, a significant number of archival sources about the migrations– photographs, newspapers, and first-person narratives— are being digitized and made available. Finally, digital humanities has provided new tools of analysis capable of engaging new quantities of data, such as visualization and data-mining.
In this course, we analyze the literary and historical texts in relation to one another, utilizing digital humanities tools. As we do so, we engage in a postcolonial and feminist critique of the colonial archive, the digital archive, and digital humanities, asking, for instance, if the gaps and biases of the colonial archive can be redressed as documents are migrated into digital archives and what role we as scholars might take.
The course makes extensive use of the Digital Library of the Caribbean (www.dloc.com),an open-access digital archive, whose technical hub is at UF, and is a pilot course for inter-collegiate collaborative learning and instruction in digital humanities. It was designed by Professor Rhonda Cobham-Sander (Amherst College), Dr. Donette Francis (University of Miami), and Leah Rosenberg (University of Florida) and librarians at each of the institutions. We will teach the course collaboratively in the spring 2016 with one section of the class at each institution. Some class discussions will be held via video conference, and some assignments will be researched collaboratively. Authors include: Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Michel Foucault, Lisa Lowe, H.G. de Lisser, Eric Walrond, Sam Selvon, VS Naipaul, Jamaica Kincaid, Olive Senior, David Dabydeen, Victor Chang, and Gaiutra Bahadur.
This course counts as a digital depth seminar for the graduate certificate in digital humanities (http://digitalhumanities.group.ufl.edu/news/2015/dh-graduate-certificate/)
Desperate Domesticity: The American 1950s
This course explores fraught constructions of domesticity in American literary and popular culture of the 1950s, focusing on the nuclear family, gender roles (especially Housewife and Organization Man), the rise of suburbia, and alternative domesticities. Our writers will include John Cheever, Gwendolyn Brooks, Patricia Highsmith, Flannery O’Connor, Tennessee Williams, Sloan Wilson, Robert Lowell, and Sylvia Plath. (We’ll likely read Evan S. Connell’s Mrs. Bridge or Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.) Our magazine readings come Ebony, Ladies’ Home Journal, The New Yorker, and One. And we’ll explore the sitcoms The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver, as well as James Dean’s breakthrough films East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. We end with retrospective images of the American 1950s in contemporary culture. Seminar presentations will address key cultural analyses from the period such as Emily Post’s Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage, Benjamin Spock’s Baby & Child Care, and William Whyte’s The Organization Man.
Reading (and Watching) 1984: A Return to the Scene of the Postmodern
The title for our seminar is taken from Michael North’s landmark study, Reading 1922: A Return to the Scene of the Modern (1999). North’s book offers an experiment in reading the extraordinary range of works released in the year 1922—including T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Claude McKay’s Harlem Shadows, Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, and James Joyce’s Ulysses—as “a limited test case in investigating the relationship between literary modernism and the public world of which it was a part.” In this seminar, we shall perform a similar experiment for the literary and cultural situation of postmodernism, taking as our focus works released in the banner year of 1984. That year saw not only the publication of such key theoretical statements as Fredric Jameson’s essay, “Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” the special Social Text double issue, “The 60s Without Apology,” the English translation of Jean François Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, and the posthumous publication of the second and third volumes of Michel Foucault’s landmark Histoire de la sexualité, but also an extraordinary range of novels and films by established figures and the debut works of others who would become vitally important in the years to follow. The year 1984 also resonated in the larger cultural context in another way, as it was the setting of George Orwell’s great Cold War fantasy, Nineteen Eighty-four (1949). Many of the works released in that year also directly reference and respond to Orwell’s masterpiece, marking the distance of current realities from Orwell’s own. In the course of our seminar, we will explore as many of the key works of 1984 as time permits, including Jameson’s and Lyotard’s studies, The 60s without Apology, the three volumes of The History of Sexuality, and a number of the following: Don DeLillo’s White Noise, Martin Amis’s Money, Julian Barnes’s Flaubert’s Parrot, Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School, Samuel Delany’s Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, Kim Stanley Robinson’ The Wild Shore, Jay McInerney’s BrightLights, Big City, Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine, Iain Banks’s The Wasp Factory, Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October, James Cameron’s TheTerminator, Brian De Palma’s Body Double, John Sayles’ The Brother from Another Planet, the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple, Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise, Michael Radford’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, and Ridley Scott’s Apple Macintosh commercial.
Visual Rhetoric, Visual Literacy, Visual Culture
Biotechnology, Circulation, Comics, Digital Media, Digital Writing, Graphic Novels, Icon, Image, Image/Text, Memory, Perception, Posthumanism, Screen, Semiotics, Technology, Telepresence, Transhuman, Video, Visual Culture, Visual Literacy, Visual Rhetoric, Visual, Writing.
Gunther Kress—along with many other rhetoric, writing, media, and communications scholars—has argued that the image is rapidly overtaking writing as the primary form of public communication. This course will examine the implications of such a claim, and will consider how visual rhetoric(s) might emerge, how we might establish visual literacy, and what it means to live in a visual culture. Throughout the course we will consider visual rhetorical theories as well as multiple forms of visual media/mediation.
Women, Literature, and Gardens in the Long 19th Century and Beyond
In February of 1913, suffragettes attacked the Orchid House and burned down the Tea Pavilion at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. The Journal of Horticulture and Home Farmer reported on the second incident in this way: “For the second time within a fortnight female vandals have visited Kew Gardens with direful consequences. The picturesque tea pavilion was razed to the ground by fire. Happily the perpetrators were captured and are unlikely to resume their insane campaign for some time to come.” No longer content to be hothouse plants themselves, these early feminists apparently viewed Kew, with its vast collections of plants from around the world, as a bastion of masculine and imperialist power. Considered by the establishment as insane for wanting to destroy such beautiful and treasured places, the women saw the garden as a contested space and put their political agenda before aesthetic appreciation.
This course will explore the various dimensions of women’s engagement with gardening, botanical studies, and horticulture in England during the long 19th century—from the early educational treatises to such radical political acts. Representations of the garden and landscape—and women’s place in them–are often central to women’s literature. In the earlier part of the period, women writers used the subject matter of gardens and plants to educate their readers, to enter into political and cultural debates, particularly around issues of gender and class, and to signal moments of intellectual and spiritual insight. Gardens were viewed as real places and textual spaces to be read and interpreted for oneself and others. As more women became engaged in gardening and botanical pursuits, the meanings of their gardens became more complex. The garden became less a retreat from the world, as it had been in earlier eras, and more of a protected vantage point for engagement and expression of one’s status and aspirations to the world. Gardens were seen as transitional or liminal zones through which women could negotiate between domestic space and the larger world, as is evident in the range of women’s writing about the garden.
In looking toward the twentieth century, we see an increasing interest in what Virginia Woolf famously termed “Professions for Women.” The garden is no longer merely the woman’s domesticated landscape but it is the site of professional advancement and identity. Women such as Beatrix Potter became important environmental advocates and farmers. As horticultural colleges opened their doors to women and some were founded specifically for women, women began to write about their new opportunities. The first chapter of Frances Wolseley’s Gardening for Women (1908) is not accidently called “Gardening as a Profession for Women.” Professional “lady gardeners” were important in the response to the war effort in World War I, when estates were encouraged to give over some of their pleasure grounds to useful crops and women became part of a “land army” at work for the good of Britain and the war effort, a more socially acceptable way to demonstrate their competence than burning down tea rooms. Women writers increasingly became interested in the preservation of rural England, a goal that sometimes clashed with the more public, visible, and active lives of women in both the countryside and the metropolis.
In additional to a range of landscape theorists and historians, writers represented will probably include, among others, Jane Austen, Charlotte Smith, Charlotte Bronte, Margaret Oliphant, Amy Levy, Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, Beatrix Potter, and Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Students will be encouraged to pursue their own interests for their research project. In addition to a few informal presentations and writing assignments, students will produce a 20-page seminar paper in stages (proposal, mock-conference paper, completed draft). Students interested in the long nineteenth century (very loosely defined here!), women’s studies, literature and the visual arts, landscape theory, and children’s literature will find ample material on the syllabus and for research. Class sessions will also include trips to the Harn museum to view women’s botanical prints and to Special Collections in the Smathers Library to learn about archival resources.
American Gothic(s): Ghosts, Monsters, and the Abhuman
The trappings of Gothicism originated in Europe: the castle, the dungeon, hauntings and secret chambers being central features—in other words, the architecture that supposedly denotes civilization where dread and horror reign instead. In the United States, Gothicism is rooted in a different history: a Puritan religious and capitalist heritage in which xenophobia, racism, sexism, slavery, servitude, and genocide all had (have?) a place. The secret chambers of the castle became the cave in the wilderness, the hold of the boat, the slave-auction, places where exploitation and torture belied the rational Enlightenment theory upon which the nation was founded. This course will start with three intertwined, non-U.S. texts that present a kind of ur-text of the Gothic tradition: Jane Eyre, Rebecca and The Wide Sargasso Sea and then we will use various theories of the abject and the Gothic to examine several key texts in which the United States tradition began and continues into the 21st century; each text will feature a ghost, a monster, or some version of the abhuman. Texts may include: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, short stories by Hawthorne, Melville and Poe; Moby-Dick, The Turn of the Screw, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, As I Lay Dying, Beloved.
GRADUATE FICTION WORKSHOP
This is an intensive fiction writing workshop for graduate students in the MFA program in Creative Writing. Reading varies, but will probably consist of short novels. Although most of the writers who take this workshop focus on the short story, the submission of novel excerpts is encouraged.
Time(s) – M 9-11
GRADUATE POETRY WORKSHOP: POETRY COMPOSITION
This is the graduate poetry workshop, MFA @ FLA. I will have mostly free assignments—no flaming hoops, no fantastical obstacle courses—and we will read two big books: the Collected Poems of James Schuyler and the Collected Poems of Ted Hughes. By the end of semester, you will be writing poems about the animals of New York…
Time(s) – M E1-1E3
FILM ANALYSIS: EVERYDAY LIFE IN FILM AND LITERATURE
Stanley Cavell has suggested that a teacher’s primary good is to prompt his or her students to consult, and take an interest in, their own experience, to come to attention. This course will take up Cavell’s proposition by looking at literature and movies that deal with everyday life and the attention to it. We will read many of the following writers: Emerson, Thoreau, Chekhov (stories), Hemingway, J.L. Carr, and Penelope Fitzgerald. We will watch movies made by these filmmakers: Rohmer, Kiarostami, Capra. We may also watch several 1930s Hollywood films.
Assignments: (1) two-page weekly, or bi-weekly papers; (2) 8-page final paper.
Time(s) – T 9-11
NEW GERMAN CINEMA
In 1962, a group of young filmmakers at the Oberhausen Film Festival boldly declared: “The old cinema is dead! We believe in a new cinema!” Out of this movement to overcome the 1950s legacies of fascism and Heimatfilm (homeland film) emerged a wave of filmmaking that became internationally known as New German Cinema. Heavily funded by the West German government and its public television stations, the films were indebted to the student movement and a vision of filmmaking and distribution based on the notion of the director as “Autor” (auteur). Wim Wenders and Rainer Werner Fassbinder embodied a new generation untainted by the Nazi legacy as they were both born in 1945. Similarly, Fassbinder’s untimely death in 1982 coincided with the demise of New German Cinema as the result of a changed political climate and funding structure.
This course offers a survey of the films made in this brief period of enormous output and creativity. We will discuss films by Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Alexander Kluge, Helke Sander, Helma Sanders-Brahms, Volker Schlöndorff, Margarethe von Trotta, and Wenders. We will trace the influence of the feminist movement on questions of feminist aesthetics, and situate the films’ negotiations of fascism and terrorism in debates about the cinematic representation of history and memory.
Requirements for graduate seminar include the following academic genres: book review, abstract, anonymous response, and a substantive research paper.
Time(s) – M E1-E3
WRITING THEORY & PRACTICE
This course introduces you to perspectives on writing and the teaching of writing in colleges and universities. It aims to help you imagine and invent different ways of teaching writing (in relation to reading and theory) across teaching contexts. We will explore, in other words, what we can learn about writing and teaching writing from rhetorical theories, posthuman theories, literary-critical theories, media theories, etc. This course also aims to help you develop different pedagogical approaches for teaching writing in relation to invention, production, distribution, and circulation of knowledge. You can expect to walk away with theories to inform your pedagogical rationales as well as practical skills to put those theories into practice in the classroom. To assist in this learning, you will help build a pedagogical archive, embark on your own pedagogical research project, and gain experience teaching in multiple areas and at multiple levels of English education.
Time(s) – R 9-11
CULTURES OF U.S. IMPERIALISM
This course takes its title from the well-known collection published in 1993 which transformed the field of American studies by making colonialism and imperialism central to conceptions of nation, culture, and identity. The theoretical basis for the course will be the broad field of postcolonial studies and the smaller, but burgeoning field of U.S. empire studies. We will examine different tropes of empire such as going native, colonial domesticity, imperial eyes, pornotropics, exhibiting empire and remasculinization; at the same time, we will focus on the specific sites of empire such as the “frontier,” Hawai’i, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Vietnam. The course will engage with different forms of U.S. imperialism such as North American settler colonialism, Pacific and continental expansionism, control of far-flung colonies, and empire without colonies. We will also examine some cultural expressions of resistance to empire. The purpose is to examine the different ways in which, at historically specific moments, culture and empire are productively imbricated and to raise a number of questions about the intersection of culture and imperialism: How are narratives of travel and exploration implicated in empire? What are the differences in how the sites of U.S. empire are constructed in the national imaginary? How does the captivity narrative persist in the narrative of contemporary imperialism? What does it mean to resist cultural imperialism?
The course will include a wide range of novels, short stories, films, and personal narratives as well as readings from postcolonial theory and US empire studies. I’m not sure exactly which texts I’ll use but I’ll PROBABLY include James Smith’s Account, Susanna Rowson’s Slaves in Algiers, Mary Helen Fee’s A Woman’s Impression of the Philippines, Lois Ann Yamanaka’s Blu’s Hanging, Roley’s American Son/Fenkl’s Memories of My Ghost Brother, R. Zamora Linmark’s Leche, Nora Okja Keller’s Fox Girl/Ann Junghyo’s Silver Stallion, Luis Rafael Sanchez’s Macho Camacho’s Beat, and Marlon Fuentes’ Bontoc Eulogy.
Requirements: long seminar paper; oral presentation; 6–7 short responses to readings.
Time(s) – W 3-5
THE WORLD OF JAMES BALDWIN
The seminar will critically survey James Baldwin’s literary work and political essays, as well as review selected biographies that explore Baldwin’s life in the United States, France, and Turkey. Baldwin was engaged in the socio-political world that surrounded and sometimes consumed his artistic and moral energies that brought him to become active in the U.S. Civil Rights movement and international concern the construction of nation, race, and sexuality. One critic wrote of Baldwin in these words: “Following publication of Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin’s literary star approached its peak during the turbulent 1960s. His burgeoning role as celebrity, prophet, and leader heaped an unsustainable amount of pressure and responsibility onto his slight frame in an American landscape that doubly punished Baldwin for being both black and gay, and he often turned to Turkey for sanctuary.” This seminar reveals the artistry, compassion, and moral commitment of one of America’s greatest writers.
Time(s) – R 3-5
KEYWORDS FOR THE PRESENT
Globalization, Neoliberalism, Disaster, Precarity, indigeneity, post-humanity … This course will survey recent theoretical literature that addresses these and other keywords related to changing geopolitical structures. In our survey, we will seek out novel and transformative ways of understanding the present. It should be of particular interest to students working in postcolonial studies and critical theory.
Time(s) – F 3-5
INTO THE ARCHIVE: READING IN THE BALDWIN
This seminar has a dual focus and will be structured accordingly. First, everyone will develop one or more archival projects in the Baldwin Historical Library of Children’s Literature, one of the most comprehensive such archives in the world. Suzan Alteri, the Curator of the Baldwin, will work with us closely and will participate in the seminar. Every other week, we will concentrate on those archival projects by looking at primary texts, presenting findings, and workshopping research in progress. You’ll be expected to give regular oral and written reports on your research. The Baldwin is an extraordinary resource even for those not specializing in children’s literature, and one aim of the course is to encourage you to explore the collection. Second, we will read children’s literature scholarship and theoretical meditations on the archive, the collection, the canon, English studies, and children’s literature and childhood studies. Every other week will be devoted primarily to such texts and their relevance to literary study past, present, and future. In effect, class will be conducted as both a seminar and a workshop. My hope is that the course will be both practical and theoretical, in ways that we can’t yet anticipate. Some students who participated in the previous iterations of this course (Fall 2004 and Fall 2008) have since published their research.
Some possible texts (check with me before purchasing):
- Nicholson Baker, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper
- Matthew Battles, Library: An Unquiet History
- Pierre Bayard, How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read
- Antoinette Burton, ed., Archive Stories: Facts, Fictions, and the Writing of History
- Michael Bérubé, The Employment of English
- Robert Darnton, The Case for Books
- James English, The Global Future of English Studies
- Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever
- Lissa Paul, The Children’s Book Business
- Francis Spufford, The Child that Books Built
- Carolyn Steedman, Dust: The Archive and Cultural History
- Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collectionand essays by Benjamin, Chow, Sanchez-Eppler, Murphy, and others.
There will be several short writing projects and a longer seminar paper (20–25 pp.); all assignments will be research-based and the longer paper must draw from theoretical as well as primary material.
Time(s) – W 6-8
CHILDHOOD, CULTURE, CREATIVITY: CONVERGENCES
This seminar probes the connections and convergences between three strands of our thinking about children and their history, children’s books, and the broad field of children’s culture in general. In the seminar this spring we will look at a number of fascinating and complex points of convergence between historical events, cultural awareness, and creative production. With each of these convergences, we will examine key literary or artistic texts, amplifying our understanding of each of these by exploring the historical context(s) in which they sprang into being, as well as variations on the theme that each has led to.
In the seminar, you will be asked to respond to these “moments” of convergence through wide-ranging creative assignments. Our intention throughout is to expand our understanding of these cultural tropes or archetypes, and what informs their having become paradigmatic. But the purpose of the course is also to encourage an imaginative, creative engagement with these materials and their possibilities.
Time(s) – T 7-9
SHAKESPEARE AND LATIN ANTIQUITY
This course will consider the Latin sources that we now think Shakespeare was far more conversant with than used to be conceded. Chief amongst these sources in this particular course will be Lucretius and Ovid.
The notable Shakespearean Stanley Wells has written, “[t]he plays, not to put too fine a point on it, reek of sexuality.” This statement is hardly disputable. But Shakespeare’s Latinity will help us understand better why the position is unassailable—why, to borrow from King Lear, “… you smell a fault … it smells of mortality.” Incarnation and derivativeness, the elemental and inescapable sexed conditions of human existence, Shakespeare learned to dramatize in great measure from Lucretius and Ovid.
I should make clear immediately that the course does not require, explicitly or implicitly, a knowledge of Latin and that the course is not a throwback to venerable influence-studies. We will be studying Shakespeare as a reader, a highly literate man, not as an “erudite.” To be sure, there will be times when we need the ipsissima verba, and on those occasions we will find them through the Internet or through other means that I will make available. But primarily our work will be research on the topics of invention that Shakespeare encountered in the Latin writers who were most influential in his career. Thus, to give a quick but salient example, in the early narrative poem, “Venus and Adonis,” Shakespeare responds to Lucretius on various occasions primarily by way of Lucretius’s famous celebration of Venus that begins in book 1 and continues throughout the De rerum natura. Such Latin topicality enables investigations of Shakespeare’s texts which return often surprising results. If Shakespeare is not as “erudite” as his great contemporary Ben Jonson, it turns out that he is nonetheless a very literate poet. It is this literacy that we will be most interested in examining so as to appreciate Shakespeareâ€™s contribution to English poetry.
Requirements for the course will be participation in the seminar as we discuss the details of Shakespeare’s rhetoric and literacy and two essays prepared outside of class in which students undertake an analysis of a particular example of Shakespeare’s rhetoric and literacy. These essays need not necessarily be lengthy nor, at least in the first instance, do they need to comport large (“bone-breaking”) bibliographies. First and foremost, they must engage with the way that Shakespeare transforms sources: he is the most original writer in our tradition who deliberately re-scripts sources not his own, not original with him. It is almost as if others’ inventions of topics (topics almost always inseparable from human sexual anxiety, especially the place and the status of women) liberated him to invent English poetry as a response to (human) Nature, a response like the responses of his Latin predecessors. This is the simple proposition of the course. We will test this proposition to learn how it may help us to understand the rhetoric with which Shakespeare composes poetry as he transforms English, language and culture.
Time(s) – M 6-8
In 1959 C. P. Snow delivered his now-famous Rede Lecture, “The Two Cultures,” which would serve as the foundation for his book by the same name. Snow argued that our society, influenced by the education system and intellectual inquiry, can be characterized as being formed by two cultures: the arts and humanities on one hand and the sciences on the other. In 2009, Jerome Kagan expanded Snow’s taxonomy to identify three cultures of influence: science, humanities, and social sciences. Also in 2009, Toney Hey, Stewart Tansley, and Kristin Tolleâ€”by way of Microsoftâ€”extended the conversation to account for the “fourth paradigm” of data-intensive scientific research.
This course will consider what it means to distinguish between sciences, humanities, and technologies and what the ramifications might be for the future of the humanities in light of the posthumanities. This course will specifically consider the future of English studies research and disciplinarity in light of science, technology, and data methodologies and knowledge. This course works to imagine different futures for work in English, most notably in Writing Studies.
Time(s) – M 3-5