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ENG 524 – EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLISH LITERATURE: Practical Knowledge
PROF. RUTH MACK
Tuesday 3:30-6:10, Clemens 412
Registration Numbers: (A) 22135 (B) 22136
In Some Thoughts on Education (1693) John Locke says that habit is “wrought . . . into the mind.” If the most famous image of Locke’s mind is writing or printing on the blank page of the tabula rasa, he suggests here something else: habit as something that will make the mind “by labor or art”—a hammer shaping metal, perhaps, or a needle embroidering cloth.
If we usually think of the Enlightenment as defined by reason as opposed to custom, Locke reminds us that custom persists even in the bright light of modernity. Locke’s malleable mind, along with the artisan called “habit,” sets the stage for an eighteenth century obsessed with thinking and rethinking the customary and the habitual--as mental processes--in relation to newly discovered worlds and, indeed, in relation to a society at home that was industrializing so rapidly as to force the invention of new terms for its own social processes. We will consider this practical knowledge and the set of philosophical questions it brings up. How is habitual, practical knowledge related to theoretical or abstract knowledge? How is it related to the scientific? Is there a distinct kind of knowledge that comes to us through habit? What does it say about the relation between body and mind? On the philosophical side, we will trace empiricist ideas of habit and experience from Locke through Hume, Berkeley and Burke. And we will attend to the way in which practical experience makes its way into aesthetics, for instance, in Hogarth’s idea that the line of beauty is visible in a woman’s body or, alternately, in a table leg.
But this is not only—or even primarily--a course on philosophy. We will look at theories of habit and knowledge in novels, poems, travel accounts, and practical manuals for artisans. What kind of knowledge is involved in building a canoe (Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe), having sex as a prostitute (Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure), making cider (John Philips’s Cyder), participating in another society’s rituals (Cook’s Journals) or designing furniture? These all count as “experience,” but what kinds of experience are they? Imaginative writing, as well as more didactic writing, takes up this question.
We will read widely, texts from within and beyond the standard eighteenth-century British canon. You do not need to have taken other courses in the period in order to take this one.
ENG 525 – THE ROMANTICS
PROF. SUSAN EILENBERG
Monday 12:30-3:10, Clemens 436
Registration Numbers: (A) 22137 (B) 22138
This course is designed as a semi-survey of three English romantic poets (Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats), whose anxieties about the possibility or impossibility of representation produced what amount often to inexplicit allegories of reading. It is a semi-survey only because while considerations of proper survey-style breadth largely determine the outlines of the syllabus, loyalty to close reading and the often disorderly questions it develops will determine the manner of our procedure through that syllabus. So although the romantics wrote more than anyone might reasonably attempt to read in a single semester, we will try to get through as much of the major material writings as we can, concentrating, however, on those pieces that have recently been at the center of critical debate. I would like to pursue questions about the economy of creation and loss (which means of course to questions about mourning and multiplication), about sympathy (what makes it possible, what makes it dangerous), about commensurability (also incommensurability, adequacy, and the sublime) and, especially, about analogy, identity, and the materialization of the figure. I would hope to maintain a balance between plain reading, close and massive, and thesis-mongering.
Each student in the A section will write brief, weekly responses to their reading and a long essay to be handed in at the end of term. Students in the B section will write only the brief weekly responses.
ENG 537 – TRANSATLANTIC ENCOUNTERS: NINETEENTH-CENTURY
PROF. CARRIE BRAMEN
Monday 3:30-6:10, Clemens 538
Registration Numbers: (A) 22139 (B) 22140
Although considered a minor genre, travel writing has become an important archive for conceptualizing the transatlantic, national typologies, and the literature of encounter. This course will explore how the iconic American was imagined, invented, and perceived by those who visited the US in the nineteenth century. One premise of the course is that ‘Americanness’ is as much a transnational construct as it is a domestic one, and British writers of the nineteenth century, in particular, played a formative role in constructing the former colony as a separate nation in typological terms. On this front, we’ll read Harriet Martineau, Fanny Trollope, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson. We’ll also read selections from other European writers, such as Tocqueville and Paul Bourget; as well as translated excerpts from Latin American travelers to the US in the nineteenth century such as Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (Argentina), José Martí (Cuba) and Eduarda Mansilla (Argentina).
Another dimension of the course will be the American abroad, a farcical figure in British and French comedies of the nineteenth century. Most of the canonical figures of the nineteenth century also wrote travel literature from Catharine Maria Sedgwick to Mark Twain. We’ll also look at more obscure figures such as John Leslie Stephens’ travel writing to Guatemala and the Middle East. The course will also address the adaptation of travel writing to novels, beginning with Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and Hawthorne’s Marble Faun and concluding with Henry James’s Daisy Miller.
We’ll also examine what happens to the archetype of the “American abroad” when the traveler is African American. Readings will include Frederick Douglass’ account of his trip to Ireland, David Dorr’s memoir about his travels as a dandy and a slave, the latter is a subject position that he never discloses, Ida B. Wells in Britain, and Nancy Prince in Russia.
The theoretical dimension will explore how national uniqueness is produced out of transatlantic connection. National exceptionalism, from this comparative perspective, appears ultimately unexceptional. We will examine the rhetorical role of clichés and stereotypes in the formation of national types. And at a conceptual level, we will grapple with the question: what does it mean to think typologically? Other topics will include tourism/ethnography; differences among migrants, refugees and tourists; the touristic gaze: cosmopolitanism and imperialism; the formation of anti-Americanism (a term coined in the 1780s.
ENG 575 – MODERNISM AND THE USES OF ACCESS
PROF. DAMIEN KEANE
Tuesday 12:30-3:10, Clemens 412
Registration Numbers: (A) 22141 (B) 22142
This course will serve as a rough survey of later modernist writing produced primarily in the British Isles during the decades bracketing the Second World War. If more conventional understandings of modernism have tended to align its tendencies with elitist restriction, this
course will consider the tensions of access and specialization that became manifest at this moment as adjuncts to wider contests for political authority. In order to engage with how literary writers engaged with changing conditions and practices of public access, the course will direct itself to some of the institutional formations that competed with and altered the social role traditionally occupied by literature: the press, radio broadcasting, mass-market paperbacks, bureaucratic organization, the rise of “information.” From the impact of new media technologies on practices of knowledge classification to cross-grained interactions of regulation and autonomy, the challenges of this earlier moment anticipate those of the present day, suggesting lines of continuity that can all too easily be suppressed by assertions both of newness and of crisis. While necessarily bounded by the semester’s time restraints, reading will be capacious enough in scope to introduce students to a range of works that responds to the social tumult of these years.
Primary readings for the course will be drawn from among those of: WH Auden, Samuel Beckett, Elizabeth Bowen, Keith Douglas, TS Eliot, Henry Green, Graham Greene, Hamish Henderson, Christopher Isherwood, David Jones, Denis Johnston, Sorley MacLean, Louis MacNeice, W. Somerset Maugham, George Orwell, Jean Rhys, Jean-Paul Sartre, Francis Stuart, Elsa Triolet, Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf, and WB Yeats.
Course requirements for all registered students will include one fifteen-minute (about two single-spaced pages) oral presentation; and, for intensively registered students only, either a final research essay (twenty pages) or a conference-length paper plus a bibliographic essay. The expectations for the final project are realistic; as such, there will be no incompletes granted for the seminar. Lastly, it is mandatory that potential auditors contact me before the start of the semester.
ENG 583 – POETICS SEMINAR: ECOPOETICS AND BIOPOLITICS
PROF. JUDITH GOLDMAN
Tuesday 3:30-6:10, Clemens 436
Registration Numbers: (A) 22153 (B) 22154
This exploratory seminar will take up ecopoetics and biopolitical poetics within a broad, interdisciplinary framework, on grounds that ecological concerns overlap considerably with biopolitical ones and that poetry endures as a set of practices for thinking through, representing, and consciously acting within and upon these concerns understood as constitutive, limiting, and enabling. Many of the works we will examine couple a decentering of language with a decentering of the human, enacting posthuman aesthetics and ethics as critique of regimes of environmental degradation and dehumanization and/or as a means of encountering at various scales a world (humans included) otherwise reduced to an instrumentalizable alterity. All of these works, of course, are proposed and composed in relation to phenomena and events, and within layered cultural contexts; our study of poetry and other art will be framed by exempla of the primary and critical discourses with which they are in or can be put in productive conversation.
Topics for exploration may include: 18th- and 19th- century constructions of earth as “system,” geological time, and evolution; Western and non-Western cartographic technologies; early modern British pastoral and anti-pastoral poetry; the classification of species; commons and enclosure (e.g. contemporary biopiracy); the production of urban space; industrial and postindustrial landscapes; Batialle’s unconditional heliocentric economy v. ecological debt (capitalism as a system of unpaid costs); gardens; parks and wilderness areas; ruins and ruination; junk space; “planet of slums” and the shantytown as zone of creation; earth works and land art; environmental sound and soundworks; green design; waste and “garbology” (e.g. the Pacific Trash Vortex); ecological degradation and catastrophe (e.g. mining, petroleum industry, agribusiness, war, “natural” disaster); ethnopoetics as ethnoecology; GMOs and heirloom cultivars; the Olympics; the plastics industry; animal studies; object-oriented ontology; theory of biopolitics (Foucault’s biopolitical governmentality and Agamben’s “bare life”); the Human Genome Project; eugenics; organ donation/sales and prosthetics; artificially extended life; refugee and INS camps; national border phenomena; thanato- or necropolitics.
--Each student will give a carefully prepared and timed 15-20 min. critical presentation on one of the assigned materials for the week. (Collaborative presentations can be 30 min.) The presentation may include related outside materials that students will post well in advance of class.
--Students will post a 1-2 pp. response every other week on one of the remaining assigned texts.
--Students will write an 18-25 pp. seminar paper or produce a comparable, substantial project w/critical introduction. Topics / thesis statements (i.e. a paragraph or so) for papers will be due 2 wks before end of term.
Recent/contemporary theoretical/critical authors may include: Agamben, Bataille, Ian Baucom, Jane Bennett, Judith Butler, William Cronon, Mike Davis, Deleuze, Derrida, Steven Feld, Foucault, Anne-Lise
François, Freud, Donna Haraway, Graham Harmon, Robert Pogue Harrison, Rem Koolhaas, Naomi Klein, Henri Lefebvre, Achille Mbembe, Joseph Pugliese, Jed Rasula, Nicholas Rose, Michel Serres, Rebecca Solnit, Hortense Spillers, Ann Laura Stoler, Rob Nixon.
The course may include such 16th - 19th-century British thinkers and writers as: Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Thomas Browne, Byron, John Clare, Charles Darwin, Erasmus Darwin, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, James Hutton, Thomas Malthus, Andrew Marvell, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Charlotte Smith, Thoreau, Walt Whitman; and such ancient authors as: Aristotle, Virgil, Lucretius.
A preponderance of poetry authors in the course will be modern, postmodern, and contemporary North and Latin American and British writers; authors may include: Arakawa and Gins, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Robin Blaser, Christian Bok, Andrea Brady, David Buuck, Cyrus Console, Marcella Durand, Laura Elrick, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Rob Halpern, Susan Howe, Brenda Iijima, Bhanu Khapil, Peter Larkin, Yedda Morrison, Lorine Niedecker, Craig Santos Perez, Holly Pester, Francis Ponge, Claudia Rankine, Evelyn Reilly, Ariana Reines, Ed Roberson, Muriel Rukeyser, Leslie Scalapino, Jennifer Scappettone, Jordan Scott, Jonathan Skinner, Martin Corless Smith, Gary Snyder, Laura Solarzano, Juliana Spahr, Eleni Stecopoulos, Cicilia Vicuña, Tyrone Williams, Louis Zukofsky.
Other creative works may include: theater (Jean Genet), film (Claire Denis, Hitchcock), photography (Edward Burtynsky), visual, performance, and land art (Andy Goldsworthy, William Pope.L, Robert Smithson), and music/soundworks (Pauline Oliveros).
ENG 584 – STUDIES IN CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPNY AND POETICS:
The Philosophy and Poetics of Poetry
PROF. STEVE McCAFFERY
Wednesday 12:30-3:10, Clemens 438
Registration Numbers: (A) 19320 (B) 19069
This course examines the 20th century interrelation of a western philosophic tradition with that of a parallel tradition in poetics, traditions that focus upon the mutating function and construction of “poetry” as a key concept, metaphors, and mythologeme in both discourses. How does Heidegger’s notion of “poetry” differ from Charles Bernstein’s? Why is “poetry” variously considered the supreme communicating vessel and a sovereign non-communication? What links both philosophic and poetic desire to the notion of the sacrificial? These and related questions are examined in a range of philosophic readings including Heidegger, Kristeva, Levinas, Bataille and Baudrillard. Such philosophic positions are analysed and read against a parallel series of poetic theories that similarly invest the notion of “poetry” in a variety of destinies and purposes. Included among others are Robert Duncan, Charles Olson’s radical fusion of the body and language, Paul Celan and the fate of poetry after Auschwitz, Denise Levertov on organic form and theories by two contemporary poets: Lyn Hejinian and Charles Bernstein.
ENG 586 – READINGS IN AMERICAN CULTURAL STUDIES
PROF. DAVID SCHMID
Thursday 3:30-6:10, Clemens 538
Registration Numbers: (A) 20134 (B) 20135
Except what happened to the discipline of cultural studies when it was ‘exported’ from its original home in Britain to the American academy, along with the reasons for what happened, have been the source of much controversy. The conventional way of telling the story of this move has emphasized its post-lapsarian dimensions, with Birmingham’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies playing the role of Eden, and the United States being typecast, once again, as a cultural and political wasteland. Although this version may not be entirely inaccurate, it is neither helpful nor nuanced, and this seminar will be dedicated to building a more detailed and constructive sense of what exactly we mean by American Cultural Studies. We will begin by reviewing some of the most direct overlaps between the British and American version of cultural studies and we will then discuss some of the ‘classic’ texts of American cultural studies (although we will also be calling into question the very notion of ‘classic,’ that is, canonical cultural studies texts), followed by some of the most exciting work currently being done in the field. Throughout the seminar, we will put pressure on both the utility and practicality of the idea that cultural studies can or should be thought of primarily in terms of national traditions. We will therefore conclude the seminar by focusing on the emergence of transnational cultural studies, a field that we will study in much greater detail at a later date.
Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (eds). Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (selections).
Lawrence Grossberg et al (eds). Cultural studies (selections).
Janice Radway. Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy and Popular Literature.
Michael Denning. The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century.
Andrew Ross. No Respect: Intellectuals and Popular Culture (selections).
Gina Dent (ed). Black Popular Culture.
Barry Keith Grant. Shadows of Doubt: Negotiations of Masculinity in American Genre Films.
Douglas Kellner. Media Culture: cultural Studies, Identity and Politics Between the Modern and the Postmodern (selections).
Josh Kun. Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America
Leerom Medcovoi. Rebels: Youth and the Cold War Origins of Identity.
Rob Latham. Consuming Youth: Vampires, Cyborgs, and the Culture of Consumption.
Mary Celeste Kearney. Girls Make Media.
José David Saldivar. Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies.
All students are required to write short (2-3 page) response papers for each of our meetings, and a 5-7 page mid-term paper. Students taking the class intensively are also required to write a
20-25 page research paper.
ENG 587 – FAULKNER, AGEE AND THE TRIUMPH OF MODERNISM PROF. BRUCE JACKSON
Monday 3:30-6:10, Clemens 610
Registration Numbers: (A) 20136 (B) 20137
No single writer of American fiction explored as many narrative modes, voices and structures as did William Faulkner in the period beginning with his fourth novel, The Sound and the Fury (1929) and ending with Go Down, Moses (1942). He wrote eight novels in the intervening period, one of them, Absalom, Absalom! (1936), his masterpiece and one of the greatest works of American Fiction. And no single work of nonfiction by an American author utilizes as many narrative and analytical forms and modes as James Agee’s and Walker Evans’s masterpiece, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, published in 1941, but pretty much finished two years earlier and based on an expedition to the American southeast in l936. The plot of Absalom, Absalom! is easy to summarize, but it is rendered by a group of narrators not one of whom can be trusted, and each of whom skews the narrative in a different way. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men describes the southern journey of Agee and Evans in exquisite detail, then time and again shatters our confidence in the ability of words or photographs to tell us anything at all; it is at once a great documentary work and one of the great deconstructions of the capacity of narrative prose to approach, apprehend or present truth. Other than the magazine writing he did to support himself, Agee rarely did anything twice: he wrote one book of poems (selected for the Yale Younger Poet series), one novel (unfinished in his lifetime but winner of a Pulitzer Prize anyway), several film scripts (each of them very different from the others—among them The African Queen and Night of the Hunter), and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. He also invented modern film criticism. We’ll read several major works by each writer, focusing particularly on Absalom, Absalom! and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, some criticism and biography; we’ll discuss how the major work of each of the two writers is indebted to that most influential work of Modernist fiction, Joyce’s Ulysses, and we’ll talk about how Faulkner and Agee may represent not only the apex of Modernist writing in America, but the end of it.
ENG 610 - STUDIES IN SHAKESPEARE:
SHAKESPEARE, SCIENCE, EPISTEMOLOGY
PROF. CARLA MAZZIO
Thursday 3:30-6:10, Clemens 436
Registration Numbers: (A) 22155 (B) 22156
How have recent developments in the history of science and science studies impacted the study of Shakespeare? This seminar will explore a range of Shakespeare’s plays and poems in light of early modern practices and discourses of anatomy, cartography, horticulture, physics, cosmology, zoology, meteorology, experimental science, and early forms of “life science.” We will work to advance our understanding of Shakespeare as a poet and playwright immersed not only in humanistic learning, theological debate, and popular culture, but also in the practices, theories, and conceptual lexicons of scientific knowledge in the making. While examining recent scholarship on science and technology in the early modern period (dealing with issues including craft based knowledge, developing cultures of experiment, historiography and representation, ecology and environment, natural history and new approaches to the non-human), we will also work closely with early modern texts, traditions and instruments central to various knowledge making practices in late Elizabethan and early Jacobean England. Plays to be examined will include, among others, Comedy of Errors, Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest.
Early in the term, each seminar member will decide upon a play and a research topic to focus in on. Importantly, each member will then construct an "archive" of research materials (containing excerpts from at least 4 primary and up to 4 secondary readings that are especially relevant to your project), pre-circulate the archive to the entire class one week before delivering a class presentation, and submit a substantial research paper at the end of term. This seminar structure is designed to enable participants to develop a substantial research paper over the course of the term, to get substantial feedback from class members (who will have read your archive in advance of your presentation), and to give serious thought to issues of archival research, historical contextualization, and the construction of an original argument.
The texts for this course will be available at Talking Leaves Bookstore on Main Street. I will distribute other reading materials in course packets throughout the semester. One volume, Shakespeare & Science (2009), not available in bookstores, can be ordered in advance at: www.buffalo.edu/ubreporter/2009_11_04/Shakespeare&Science2009.pdf
ENG 627 – AMERICAN LITERATURE AND THE 1960s
PROF. WILLIAM SOLOMON
Tuesday 3:30-6:10, Clemens 538
Registration Numbers: (A) 22158 (B) 22157
This seminar will seek to map an exceptionally vital period in US literary history with the help of two by means mutually exclusive categories: black humor and new journalism. These have remained to a certain degree conceptually impoverished terms, and one of the goals of the course as it unfolds will be to test whether they can be employed in a critically productive fashion. Although both cultural phenomena may be considered to be outgrowths of the Beat movement, we will begin our inquiry further in the past, taking the controversial work of the late or grotesque modernist Louis-Ferdinand Celine (alongside Breton’s preface to his Anthology of Black Humor  as our point of departure. Of crucial importance in our effort to configure the significance of the altered modes of writing that emerged in the 1960s will be the increased emphasis (frequently politically charged) on affective force as a constitutive aesthetic priority; and it is along these lines that we will open up a dialogue between literary practice in this era and the roughly contemporaneously theoretical undertaking of Deleuze and Guattari as well as Kristeva (Benjamin’s earlier formulation of an aesthetics of shock will also be addressed). An equally pertinent topic throughout the course will be the problem of identification, clearly one of the dominant preoccupations in American literature (confessional poetry in particular) from midcentury forward. Often this preoccupation manifested itself in acts of interracial imitation (the “White Negro”) and in a critical fascination with blackface minstrelsy as an enduring aspect of popular entertainment. Lastly, we will examine the intensified focus during the period on everyday life as the subject matter for fictive and factual literary discourses, and the work of
de Certeau will provide a useful theoretical supplement to our explorations of this matter. Throughout the seminar selections from assorted 60s cinemas—American Underground Film and the European New Waves—will offer valuable corollaries to our primary objects of investigation.
Literary texts will be selected from among others: Joseph Heller, Catch-22; Joan Didion, Play it as it Lays and The White Album; Chester Himes, A Rage in Harlem;Thomas Pynchon, V; John Barth, A Floating Opera; Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Sylvia Plath, “Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams;” stories by Flannery O’Connor; Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Terry Southern, “Blood of a Wig;” E.L. Doctorow, The Book of Daniel; Grace Paley, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute; Charles Wright, The Wig; essays by Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer; Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness. Relevant films include: Kenneth Anger, Scorpio Rising; Ken Jacobs, Star Spangled to Death; Jon Jost, Speaking Directly; Vera Chytilova, Daisies; Karel Reisz, Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment; Koreyoshi Kurahara, Black Sun; Jim McBride, David Holzman’s Diary; Mike Kuchar, Sins of the Fleshapoids; as well as Norman Mailer, Maidstone; Dennis Hopper, The Last Movie; and Ron Rice, The Queen of Sheba Meets the Atom Man.
ENG 648 – PSYCHOANALYTIC CRITICISM: Working through Repetition
PROF. JOAN COPJEC
Wednesday 3:30-6:10, Clemens 436
Registration Numbers: (A) 19151 (B) 19011
When Foucault let out his famous sigh, “perhaps one day this century will be known as Deleuzian,” he was expressing admiration for two books of “exceptional merit,” Difference and Repetition and Logic of Sense. This seminar will focus on the first—arguably Deleuze’s greatest work and a great book on psychoanalysis. We will consider Difference and Repetition’s considerable contribution to psychoanalysis, its interpretations of the death drive, pleasure, and sexuality and compare its reading to other readings of the drive. We will also focus on the question of negation and Deleuze’s sustained quarrel with Hegel.
In many ways, this seminar takes off from where my spring 2012 seminar, “Gadgets and Habits,” left off. But I do not intend to repeat myself, nor to treat the last seminar as a prerequisite for this one.
Besides Different and Repetition and a few other short texts by Deleuze, we will most likely also consider texts by the following: Freud, Lacan, Foucault, Laplanche, Zizek, and Malabou.
ENG 649 – STUDIES IN AFRICAN-AMERICAN LITERATURE
PROF. HERSHINI YOUNG
Wednesday 12:30-3:10, Clemens 412
Registration Numbers: (A) 22159 (B ) 22160
This class investigates what lies coiled within and what lies under the skin. Through detours, dance-steps and mis-steps, we will survey recent cultural and literary work on blackness, sexuality and performance. Tracing histories of black performance, we will read Daphne Brooks’ Bodies in Dissent, and Stephanie Batiste’s Darkening Mirrors to see what jumps out of the cardboard box and peers out of reflective surfaces. We will turn to Nicole Fleetwood’s Troubling Vision and Leigh Raifor’s Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare to think through how the black body is visualized as both familiar and disruptive, victim and protestor. Because I was dying for someone to write about Ice Cube’s career transformation and talk about ideologies of racial transcendence, we will read Brandi Wilkins Catanese’s book on The Problem of the Color (Blind) and Tavia Nyong’o’s The Amalgamation Waltz. Lastly we will overtly queer black performance by reading scholars such as Darieck Scott, Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman, Sharon Holland’s The Erotic Life of Racism, interspersed with excerpts from The Queer Art of Failure. ENG 653 – CRITICAL THEORY – QUEER THEORY
Registration Numbers: (A) 20141 (B) 20143
This course examines the founding texts and concepts of the heterogeneous field of study known as queer theory. We will begin by considering the premise that “queer” is more than a catchall term or synonym for “lesbian and gay,” and we will proceed by taking seriously the various critiques of identity that have emerged during the past half century. We will try to grasp the conceptual and political implications of “queer” as not a new identity but that which undermines identity. This is not a course in lesbian and gay studies, neither is it a course in cultural studies or popular representations of sexuality, though we will try to consider the full range of contemporary erotic practices.
In order to trace a genealogy of the concept of queerness, we will return to the beginning of the twentieth century and the basic texts of psychoanalysis, primarily Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. After reading Foucault’s introductory volume of The History of Sexuality as something other than a critique of psychoanalysis, we will assess how sexuality might be analyzed outside the framework of psychology, as well as beyond that of identity. We will pay attention to the imbrication of sexuality with race, class, and nationality; and in thinking about sexual embodiment we will consider the intersection of queer theory with disability theory.
In addition to Freud and Foucault, reading includes work by: Hilton Als, Lauren Berlant, Leo Bersani, Judith Butler, Arnold I. Davidson, Tim Dean, Teresa de Lauretis, Samuel Delany, Lisa Duggan, Lee Edelman, Elizabeth Grosz, Judith Halberstam, David Halperin, Scott herring, Guy Hocquenghem, Robert McRuer, Gayle Rubin, Eve Segwich, Michael Warner, Monique Witting.
Please read Michael Warner’s The Trouble with Normal before the first day of class.
ENG 653 – CRITICAL THEORY
PROF. ALEX REID
Monday 3:30-6:10, Clemens 412
Registration Numbers: (A) 20140 (B) 20142
This course will investigate the emerging field of speculative realism with attention paid to object-oriented ontology. Speculative realism developed over the last decade, though especially in the last four years. In their introduction to Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism, a collection including contributions from most of the major figures in the speculative realist movement, the editors (Levi Bryant, Nick Smicek, and Graham Harman) note that while the contributors represent a variety of views and approaches, they share a common goal of speculating about reality beyond the context of thought or a human-centric focus.
This activity of ‘speculation’ may be cause for concern amongst some readers, for it
might suggest a return to pre-critical philosophy, with its dogmatic belief in the powers
of pure reason. The speculative turn, however, is not an outright rejection of these
critical advances; instead, it comes from a recognition of their inherent limitations.
Speculation in this sense aims at something ‘beyond’ the critical and linguistic turns.
In the face of the ecological crisis, the forward march of neuroscience, the increasingly
splintered interpretations of basic physics, and the ongoing breach of the divide between
human and machine, there is a growing sense that previous philosophies are incapable
of confronting these events. (3)
Speculative realism in its various forms is now being actively employed as a method across the humanities. Literary scholars such as Eileen Joy and Jeffrey Cohen have begun to examine the idea of an object-oriented literary criticism and the implications it might have for existing methods. What does it mean to treat “fictions” as real and material? To put Batman and vampires on equal ontological footing with zebras, paper clips, and highways? How might we theorize the minimal, rhetorical-communicative relations among objects? We will read essays from The Speculative Turn, as well as works by Harman, Latour, DeLanda, Ian Bogost, Quentin Meillassoux, and others. The object-oriented ontologists also have an active online community,
so we will take the opportunity to interact directly with some of these authors.
Extensive students will write response papers and do an in-class presentation. Intensive students will also complete a final project either taking up a speculative realist methodology to investigate a subject of interest to them or investigating a particular concept or issue from our readings.
ENG 682 - WOMEN’S EXPERIMENTAL FICTION
PROF. CHRISTINA MILLETTI
Thursday 3:30-6:10, Clemens 412
Registration Numbers: (A) 20145 (B) 20146
Against the backdrop of 3rd wave feminism, criticism of women’s experimental fiction continues to arise from two distinct positions: on the one hand, it often promotes the belief that women’s writing is fundamentally realist and experiential (that women’s interests are focused on representation not innovation), and, on the other hand, it moves towards an understanding of narrative experimentation by women as an inherently political gesture. Our class will insert itself into this ongoing dispute by taking up the question of how “fictionally-based” political gestures arise—what constitutes them, and what their impact might be—and why writing by women who, as Virginia Woolf once wrote, “[break] the sentence…[break] the sequence” continues to be shaped by questions of form as much as power.
Over the course of this semester, we will consider the various techniques that women innovative writers use to critique the constraints that limit both gender and conventional forms of fiction alike. We will evaluate what kind of “field” and “scene” these innovative women and their work represent when put into critical proximity. We will elaborate productive relationships between theories of fictional language, gender, and power as they arise in Irigaray, Butler, Foucault, Derrida, and Blanchot. Above all, we will investigate the techniques that writers as diverse as Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Djuna Barnes, Christine Brooke-Rose, Lydia Davis, Kathy Acker, Shelley Jackson, Clarice Lispector, Christine Hume, Nathalie Sarraute, Lydia Yuknavitch, Renee Gladman, and Lydia Millet (among others) use to enhance their readers’ understanding of gender.
ENG 684 – POETICV MEDIA AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS
PROF. MING-QIAN MA
Thursday 12:30-3:10, Clemens 412
Registration Numbers: (A) 20147 (B) 20148
In separating the post-1950s “new modernists” from the earlier ones, David Antin posits, as a distinguishing feature of artists/poets ranging from John Cage to Jackson Mac Low, a “fundamental axiom” on a radical necessity/act to “define the medium of action,” which carries corresponding “implications.” Although contemporary avant-garde poetry has enthusiastically engaged in a plethora of media in its practices, the implications of these media have nevertheless remained insufficiently explored, and our critical approaches to the media-implications interface still stay largely at a level characterized by Marshall McLuhan as “trying to do today’s job with yesterday’s tools—with yesterday’s concepts.”
Built on but expanding McLuhan’s thesis that “The medium is the message,” this seminar will look into the contemporary innovative writing practices and their engagements with diverse poetic media in the forms of languages, methods, procedures/processes, digital programs, found objects, ready-mades, daily rituals, cultural norms, bio-genetic engineering, DNA, among others. Its critical objective is to imagine, explore, and map what McLuhan describes as “a totally new environment” opened up by these media, and to speculate on and theorize the concomitant implications regarding the new, the different, and the emerging configurations into which the existing concepts governing our current forms of understanding, cognition, and communication are reshaped and changed.
Selected readings for the seminar will be announced later.
ENG 685 – WORD AND IMAGE
PROF. DENNIS TEDLOCK
Wednesday 3:30-6:10, Clemens 540
Registration Numbers: (A) 20149 (B) 20150
The history of the relationship between texts and graphic art will be traced in the lineage of alphabetic writing, including the changes brought about by printing. We will question the present process of canonization in the West, which favors verbal art consisting of nothing but text and visual art from which text is absent. For alternatives to the alphabetic story, we will look to traditions in which the sign systems used by writes and graphic artists are shared, as in Egyptian, Chinese, and Mayan cases. The works examined will include cave and rock art, Navajo sand paintings, Ojibwe birch-bark scrolls, and Mayan and Mixtec books. Exceptional Western works will include the drawn and painted poetry of Paul Klee and Kenneth Patchen, concrete poetry, and graphic novels. As an alternative to a term paper, students may propose a creative project that addresses the relationship between image and texts.
ENG 697 – DEFINITIONS OF AMERICA
PROF. ROBERT DALY
Wednesday 3:30-6:10, Clemens 538
Registration Numbers: (A) 22161 (B) 22162
In The Event of Literature (New Haven: Yale UP, 2012), Terry Eagleton argues that works of literature portray freedom “positively as self-determination rather than negatively as freedom from constraint,” that they “correspond to reality less in their content than in their form,” and that, “as images of self-determination, they reflect less the actual than the possible.” In the winter 2012 issue of New Literary History, Charles Altieri suggests that “seeing-in” to literature “affords the possibility of making more supple, more intricate, and more intense our repertories for engaging, understanding, and shaping experience in the world beyond the text.” And in Post-Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism (Stanford: Stanford UP: 2012), Jeffrey Nealon argues for reading literature as a preparation for living in the larger world that includes but is not limited to language and literature. He argues that we have “relied on a kind of linguistic nostalgia, clinging to the life raft of the hermeneutics of suspicion,” and he suggests that we need to move from “the hermeneutics of suspicion” to a “hermeneutics of situation,” our own situations as well as those of the texts. These notions are all handy for the toolkit, and I see no need to throw out all the others just to make use of one.
Still, with these priorities of our own time in mind, we shall read, within their reciprocal cultural contexts, several writings that help to define, create, or revise our communal cultures, both the discourse of nationalism and what Julia Kristeva calls the discourses of "nations without nationalism." We shall attend to their interactions with other cultures, with conversations among them, and with the ways in which they are both representative (participating in the cultural conversations of their times and ours) and hermeneutic (affording us practice and instruction in the arts of interpretation).
Though its primary focus will be on the works themselves and the connections among them, this seminar will be informed by recent developments in our understanding of mirror neurons and cognitive theory but will not be dominated by them. Theories give us models for doing criticism, so it’s best to have several. For that reason, ecocriticism, feminism, trauma theory, post-analytic philosophy, virtue ethics, aesthetics, cultural theory, and any other theories we find useful will be welcome in our discussions of these texts but will not replace them.
We shall also focus on agency and action, on what difference these thoughts make in our lives. As Hawthorne suggested long ago, “Thought has always its efficacy,” and as Amanda Anderson argued more recently [The Way We Argue Now. Princeton, Princeton UP, 2006], “We must keep in mind that the question, How should I live? is the most basic one; the response, As a knower, is simply one modification thereof.” We “must acknowledge the priority of normative questions and the fundamentally practical structure of human action and understanding.”
In Jonathan Culler’s words, we shall explore the roles that literature “and narrative technique play” in rethinking “the conditions of possibility of the nation” [The Literary in Theory. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2007]. Still more recently, Claude S. Fischer has explored how “Americans handled the tension between individual liberty and society through an implicit covenant between member and group, which allowed free exit . . . but required commitment to the group” from those who stayed. We shall explore his notion that America moves “from a society of small, hierarchical circles . . . to a society of vastly more choices, where individuals are much more empowered and expected to build their own social bonds” in networks which all influence but none control [Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010].
We shall not necessarily agree or disagree with all or any of these writers. We shall begin with the current understandings of the primary texts and see what we can to both learn and advance them.
Each student will participate generously and cooperatively in seminar discussion and do one seminar report (15-20 minutes); each student taking the seminar intensively (for full credit) will also do one research essay on a topic of his or her own choosing.
William Andrews, ed., Classic American Autobiographies (Mentor, Penguin) [contains Rowlandson, Franklin, Douglass, and Zitkala-Sa]
Susanna Haswell Rowson, Charlotte Temple: A Tale of Truth, ed. Cathy N. Davidson (Oxford)
Washington Irving, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (Signet)
James Fenimore Cooper, The Pioneers (Harvard)
Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Hope Leslie; or Early Times in the Massachusetts (Rutgers UP)
Edgar Allan Poe,Selected Poetry and Tales (Broadview)
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson's Prose and Poetry, ed. Joel Porte and Saundra Morris (Norton Critical Edition)
Margaret Fuller, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Larry J. Reynolds (Norton Critical Edition)
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance (Bedford)
Henry David Thoreau, Walden (Norton Critical Edition)
Rebecca Harding Davis, Life in the Iron Mills (Bedford)
Emily Dickinson, The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition, ed. R. W. Franklin (Belknap, Harvard UP)
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Novels (Signet)
These texts, all paperbacks, will be available at the University bookstore.
Mitt Romney explains the relation between Israel and Palestine as one between cultures: one of them dynamic and progressive and practically American, the other reactionary and ass-backward. In this class, we’ll explore the contribution cultural study has to make to such culturalist readings, and to understanding the modern history of Israel and Palestine since 1948, which gave birth to the state of Israel; to the dispersed Palestinian nation living in Israel, under occupation, and in exile; and to an amazing body of writing, including
—oral histories of massacres (of Jews in Hebron in 1929, of Palestinians in Tantura in 1948);
—essays and journals by Zionist leaders (Theodor Herzl, David Ben Gurion, Ze’ev Jabotinsky), and Palestinian poets and memoirists on the exile of the 700,000 (the Nakba).
—novels and novellas: Yoram Kaniuk’s Confessions of a Good Arab, Emile Habiby’s brilliant comic novel Saeed the Pessoptimist, Ghassan Kanafani’s classic novellas “Men in the Sun” (on the Palestinian Persian Gulf proletariat) and “Return to Haifa” (Shoah meets Nakba), A. B. Yehoshua’s “Facing the Forests” (writers’ block plus forest fires); S. Yizhar’s Khirbet Khizeh (shattering modernist account of the ethnic cleansing of a village), Sahar Khalifeh’s The Inheritance and End of Spring (socialist, feminist, realist works by Palestine’s greatest novelist), and Elias Khoury’s Gate of the Sun (magical realist epic of the Nakba).
—Hebrew fiction by a Galilean Palestinian (Anton Shammas’s autobiographical novel Arabesques) and Arabic fiction by a Iraqi-Israeli Jew (Samir Naqqash), along with lots of translated Hebrew fiction and poetry by other Mizrahim or “Arab Jews” such as Shimon Ballas, Ronny Someck, Tikvah Levi, Sami Shalom Chetrit. Our main text here will be Ammiel Alcalay’s great anthology, Keys to the Garden.
—poetry: early martyr/resistance poetry by Abd al-Rahim Mahmud, Ibrahim Tuqan, and Abu Salma, alongside Kanafani’s brief, brilliant history of the 36-39 Arab Revolt; Israeli nationalist and war poetry by Nathan Alterman and Yehuda Amichai; Fadwa Tuqan’s romantic resistance lyrics; Mahmoud Darwish short resistance poems and meditative long poems; Aharon Shabtai’s and Dahlia Ravikovitch’s scathing phillipics against Israeli ethnic supremacism; Taha Muhammad Ali’s brilliantly plain “fellah” (peasant) lyrics; and an anthology of Israeli protest poetry (With an Iron Pen).
—memoirs by Mahmoud Darwish (Memory for Forgetfulness), Fadwa Tuqan (Mountainous Journey), Sasson Somekh (Baghdad, Yesterday), and Amos Oz (A Tale of Love and Darkness).
We’ll also be seeing a few films: Divine Intervention (a comedy by Elia Suleiman), Waltz with Bashir (animated feature film about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982), Arna’s Children (a documentary about a children’s theater in Jenin, and the Second Intifada), and Forget Baghdad (a documentary about Iraqi Jews in Israel).
We’ll talk about literary form and style; lyric and landscape, nation and village; the Palestinian experience of exile, colonialism, and neocolonialism (sometimes all at once); resistance literature; fiction and nationalism; historical debates among Israeli nationalist, Israeli revisionist, and Palestinian historians; visions of the future; the claims of modernism, realism, and magical realism; and the cross-sectarian force of Levantine capitalism. We’ll be reading a good deal of criticism and theory along the way (Ella Shohat, Rachel Feldhay Brenner, Bashir Abu-Manneh, Barbara Harlow, Eyal Weizman), which will probably connect up with any interests you might already have in postcolonial theory. But we’ll emphasize in-class close reading of our authors.
All readings in English translation. It’s a brilliant but still relatively unknown body of work in North America, so I don’t assume any prior knowledge. It’s also—surprise!—a controversial topic, but passion and debate are crucial for understanding, so we wouldn’t avoid them even if we could. There’s no ideological default position. No student presentations, which is to say, constant student presentations. Everyone will write weekly informal essays (half an hour’s work or so). “Intensive” people will also write a twenty-page seminar paper.
I’ll gladly talk with you more about the course: email@example.com, Clemens 319. Please check before buying books—I may change my mind on one or two, and in the cool light of December, I’ll be winnowing down this over-ambitious syllabus. Write me after mid-December and I’ll send you the final book list. We’ll begin with S. Yizhar—I’ll send you some related materials early if you contact me.