Below is a list of Current Upper-Division Undergraduate Course Offerings and our Current Graduate-Seminar Offerings.
Prof. Peter Covino
TTH 12:30-1:45 PM
INTRO TO CREATIVE WRITING: POETRY
We will explore some of the most innovative and exciting poems ever written both in English and many in translation, beginning from Medieval times with a special focus on avant-garde and contemporary poetry. Instead of a broad review of literary periods, we will spend concentrated time on a few specific authors from varying eras. In addition to writing/revising your own poems (10 pages per semester), we will spend focused class time responding to changing poetic traditions with a keen understanding of how these trends still influence our work as contemporary practitioners of the art. Class time is divided equally between discussion of formal craft issues by established writers/poets and review of student work. Students are required to attend all related Read/Write reading/literary events during the semester and write about them in their journals.
TH 9:00-11:45 AM, Providence Campus
TOPICS IN FILM THEORY & CRITICISM
The original and the copy, the real and the fake: why are we so concerned with ascertaining and maintaining these distinctions? What is at stake in our interest in and valorization of originality and authenticity? Using film and other visual media as examples this course will explore the theoretical underpinnings of various concepts of originality and duplication, including related concepts such as authenticity, authorship and creativity, as well as the practical and legal ramifications of such contemporary practices as adaptation and the making of transformative works.
W 7:00-9:45 PM
CONTEMPORARY CINEMATIC APPROACHES TO THE "REAL": A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE FILMS OF CASSAVETES, ALTMAN, ROHMER, LEIGH, AND CEYLAN
After first interrogating, in both practical and philosophical terms, the words "real" and "realism" themselves, we will examine different cinematic approaches to suggesting on-screen reality. We will then compare how representative works of the above-mentioned auteurs use "realistic" subject matter, stylistic devices, and themes. Graded work will consist of a series of weekly short response papers, and two longer critical papers.
Prof. John Leo
TTH 3:30-5:15 PM
FILM GENRES: CINEMA AND MODERNISM
In this course we interrogate the ideas of “modernism” and “modernity,” and see/critique a number of post-1950s films: European, Asian, African, North and South American. And from a mixture of genres: combat/war, melodrama, thriller (political and otherwise), scifi and fantasy, documentary, others. Possible films: Deren’s and Hammid’s Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), Morrissey’s Flesh (aka Ándy Warhol’s Flesh 1968), Altman’s Come back to the Five and Dim, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982), Klimov’s Idi i smotri (Come and See 1985), Zhang Ke Jia’s Sanxia haoren (Still Life 2006)), Guillermo del Toro’s El labertino del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth 2006). Our key critical and aesthetic goals are pretty straightforward: to enhance abilities to read, to see, to interpret ourselves and our planet, and to enjoy film all the more for all that. In short, competencies and literacies in multiple media, interdisciplinary studies, and human differences are the wager. One hopes: also time management. Some short critical papers, quizzes (some unannounced), are the drill. No final examination. Strict attendance policy. Lecture includes much interaction.
To a certain extent this course plays with its own heresies, one of which is focusing on films made after 1950—after, that is, the glorious moment of High Modernism, usually grasped as 1890-1930s. For the fun of it we can imagine ourselves being hoisted on the dollies and paint brushes of the Heroes even as we hang—flagrantly, indifferently—with that generation’s successor detritus, hoisted this time on TV fixed cams and day-glo spray cans. “Modernism’s legitimation crisis is always already over seeing: Who sees what? The 2nd generation high(er) tech Emersonian Eyeballs are acutely aware of a planet consuming itself. Of course it’s not a matter of dismissal of, nor of ascendancy among, these phases of Modernism. Rather one of how to rethink connections and “periodization” in light of so many posts—of the modern, the colonial, of this and that. If it’s the necessary position of any society to think of itself as that which is the case—well, as modern in the sense of “now”—then we’re good. We’ll pay more attention to the complexities of modernities than to those of modernism by riffing on the critical category, to bring the literally stunning textures of living with “the modern” as a form of cinematic and “visual” literacy.
TH 4:00-6:45 PM
ADVANCED CREATIVE WRITING: FICTION
“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” This quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne is absolutely accurate. The work will not be easy yet I promise we will have some fun.
This course is advanced creative fiction writing through the production of short pieces. You will also be keeping a journal or notebook and critiquing each other’s work, and doing various exercises designed to stimulate the imagination and to hone your writing skills. We will cover all the elements of fiction; creating well rounded characters, setting, real dialogue, finding voice and revision.
We will not deal with unusually long projects in this class. We will work on relatively short pieces and a first chapter for a novel.
T 7:00-9:45 PM
ADVANCED CREATIVE WRITING: SCREENWRITING
An ADVANCED SCREENWRITING course, will focus on the various methods of creating a compelling narrative, exciting visuals, fully realized characters, and dialogue that pops off the page. Particular attention will be paid to streamlining the form with precision and concision in order to produce the best possible blueprint for a marketable film.
MWF 12:00-12:50 PM
STRUCTURE OF AMERICAN ENGLISH
This course has two different but complementary goals. On the one hand, we will review the grammatical terms and rules, which are used by most grammarians and English teachers to “improve” our written and spoken language. On the other hand, I will introduce you to linguistic concepts and analyses, which will explain why we write and speak the way we do. Between these two poles of judging what we do and admiring how we do it, wavers the stuff of most English courses, literature and composition. So, to ground our discussions of both grammar and linguistics, you will analyze samples of literary and expository texts.
MWF 11:00-11:50 AM
EVOLUTION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
In this course we will explore how the English Language has evolved in the 1000 years from its origins in 600 AD, as a remote North Sea dialect, to its emergence in the Renaissance as a world language. In addition, we will consider how English culture may have influenced language change and how the language may have mirrored cultural values. The majority of class time will be devoted to individual or group exercises and projects which will give you a sense of the sounds and structures of English and the opportunity to make connections between language and culture.
MWF 1:00-1:50 PM
THE LANGUAGE OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
Children's literature has been dismissed as mere fluff and vilified as cultural indoctrination. In this course we will attempt to determine whether children's literature is just harmless fun or dangerous propaganda by developing a method of analyze the language of literary texts. We will review those linguistic tools with which critics describe style, and then we will apply those tools to children's texts and ask whether style reveals or reinforces cultural values. Students will consider in particular books by Dr. Seuss by analyzing their sound patterns, word choice, and sentence structure.
Prof. Mary Cappello
TTH 2:00-3:15 PM
LITERARY NONFICTION: SONTAG, BARTHES, BALDWIN
Creative nonfiction. Literary nonfiction. Lyric Essay. Today we use these terms to refer to writing that, it could be argued, has existed formally for centuries but did not call itself such. Why is this so, and what can we discover about nonfiction form by studying the writing of three of its most important practitioners working in the decades following the Second World War? This class will give students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the work of Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, and James Baldwin. How did each writer re-interpret the autobiographical impulse? Were they founders of a discourse in the Foucauldian sense? Public intellectuals in the Gramscian sense? Can we read essays, and Barthesian invented forms, using the same reading apparati that we bring to the study of poetry and fiction? We’ll read the signature pieces of these writers side by side, as well as their respectively ground-breaking work on film, music, and photography. How are these writers written about, and what are the implications of their variously iconic status? What intellectual traditions were they a part of, and what is the significance of each of these writer’s oblique or closeted relationship to their sexuality? Students will be expected to attempt an essay “in the manner of” either Baldwin, Barthes, or Sontag; to carry out independent research in the form of an annotated bibliography; and to compose a final, analytic essay using a thematic lens—i.e., the idea of mourning, of culture, of study, of race, etc. in Baldwin, Barthes, or Sontag.
MWF 12:00-12:50 PM
ANTEBELLUM US LITERATURE AND CULTURE
Study of pre-Civil War poetry and prose (the period formally known as the American Renaissance/American Romantic movement).
T 7-9:45 PM
U.S. LITERATURE AND CULTURE FROM 1865-1914
In 1865, having emerged battered from an arduous and bloody civil war, America faced an uncertain future. Ongoing racial tensions, an escalating influx of immigrants, a mounting women’s movement, and rabid progress towards urbanization and industrialization made for a turbulent and volatile social landscape. Such a backdrop provided rich material for America’s authors. In this course we will read extensively, fiction and non-fiction, to explore post-bellum literary developments and engage with the cultural challenges of the era. Authors will include: Horatio Alger, Willa Cather, Charles Chesnutt, Stephen Crane, W.E.B DuBois, James Weldon Johnson, Upton Sinclair, Booker T. Washington, and Edith Wharton.
MW 4:00-5:15 PM
LITERARY THEORY AND CRITICISM: ATTITUDES OF READING, METHODS OF THINKING
This course is an invitation to open the broader query of how one might read and think by exploring possible answers to questions, such as “what is theory?” and “what are theories for?” In other words, on one level the course seeks to provide a useful foundation in critical theory, while on another it aims to present opportunities for experimentation with critical thinking. Of focal concern to our inquiries will be the affinities and contestations between law and lawlessness, conformity and experimentation, which will both guide and facilitate our explorations of the interrelations among theories and theorists. Divided into two segments, the course will offer opportunities to gain a level of familiarity with select works, generally considered to be fundamental to critical theory, by Plato, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, and Ferdinand de Saussure in the first half, and by Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, and Jean Baudrillard in the second half. Two novels, Knut Hamsun’s Hunger and Tom McCarthy’s Remainder, will complement our collection of readings.
W 7:00-9:45 PM
LITERARY THEORY AND CRITICISM
In this course, we will read some of the major theoretical texts that inform literary studies today. We will also acquaint ourselves with some of the important nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophical, linguistic, sociological, psychological and political texts that spurred so much of what has come to be known as “literary” theory. Our primary text will be The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. We will also watch several films in class to enhance and illuminate the theary.
TTH 2:00-3:15 PM
In his forward to Zora Neale Hurston's Every Tongue Got to Confess, John Edgar Wideman describes Hurston's work as "reframing the relationship between spoken and written verbal art" (xiv) and implores us to "Listen as well as read. Dream. Participate the way you do when you allow a song to transport you" (xvii). This course takes a comparative approach to the speech and voice of African-American fiction as its overarching theme. We will start with selections from Hurston's collection of folktales from the Gulf States, listening to the voices of the storytellers and their subjects. From there we will delve into African-American short stories and novels, and literary criticism by prominent scholars in African-American literature. Tuning into the voices of narrators and characters, we will consider the tones and styles of the works we read and the effects of these formal elements as they relate to major issues in African-American fiction such as colonialism and postcolonialsm, slavery, gender, social class, culture, migration, and the institutionalization of race. Where do they take us if we listen as well as read, and if we dream, as Wideman suggests? How do voice, speech, vernacular, and dialogue work formally? How do these voices carry plot, reveal emotion, relate to setting, or respond to major issues? How do writers translate the spoken word to the written text? Can we follow the voices of Toni Morrison's characters through the woods in A Mercy? Can we hear the blues in James Baldwin's If Beale Street Could Talk?
M 4:00-6:45 PM
This course is designed for reading and understanding the structure and interpretation of Greek and Roman Epic poetry. These poetic compositions are some of the earliest forms of writing to survive from a distant past and are considered the best of their genre; they are among the most important documents of Western Civilization. In this course we will study The Iliad and The Odyssey of Homer, and the Roman epic, The Aeneid of Virgil. We will also analyze their correspondence with today’s issues of war and piece, and their effect on the expanding western civilization. We also will explain the composition of the modern Portuguese epics, The Lusiads, of Luis de Camoes and the English epic, Paradise Lost, of John Milton.
Prof. Felix Okeke-Ezigbo
TTH 2:00-3:15 PM
Giving the “soul that sinneth,” the peace to die the death preordained for it, this course shall not attempt in any wise to proselytize anyone, despite the mounting evidence that a deficiency in spirituality is implicated in the rising waves of sordid pathologies that include the greedy acquisition of vainglorious capital – the Maddoff syndrome? - and the affliction of many a soul by life-controlling problems and grotesque cravings. And so, leaving the dead to bury their dead, this course is anchored instead on the premise that it is very essential for any Western educated person to know the Bible, since it constitutes the foundational epistemology of Western civilization. We focus here on the narratives of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh, Old Testament) from a bifurcated literary perspective, meaning that we shall savor the Bible both as literature and in literature, with a view to educating the students to think critically and imaginatively about the nature of literature - religion and philosophy, too - as a fundamental reaction to and expression of the seeming cyclical futility that is the human condition.
MWF 1:00-1:50 PM
BRITISH LITERATURE: 1660-1800:
MEDIUMS, MIDDLES, MEDIATIONS
The study of the relationship between literature and technology is one that has acquired a certain degree of critical urgency in the late twentieth century with the proliferation of information technologies and communications media. The ‘digital revolution’ invites us to return to subjects that have long been of interest to scholars, including the relationships between mind and body, space and time, and form and content. While ‘new media’ may offer us fresh paradigms for thinking about these subjects, they also invite us to attend to ‘old media’ – not only the print book, but the ways in which different literary forms and genres engage the dynamic intersections between reader, text, and society.
Framed by readings in contemporary media theory and literary criticism, in ENG 374 we will turn to the long eighteenth century to explore the ways in which genres such as the georgic, the gothic, and locodescriptive poetry complicate our understanding of new and old media. Focusing on texts that thicken the space of the middle and foreground the work of mediation, we will examine and rethink debates about literary form, originality and imitation, and work and pleasure that recur throughout the long eighteenth century and beyond.
TH 7:00-9:45 PM
BRITISH LITERATURE: 1660-1800
The period we’ll consider is book-ended by a restored monarchy and state church at the start, and revolutions—both American and French—at the end. In between Britain becomes a world power, establishes a solid middle class, and embraces a self-image of exceptional pragmatism and common sense. It is a progress and a personality not unlike our own. In English 374 we’ll consider poems, plays, essays and novels of the period, not only on their intrinsic merits, but also insofar as they reflect, encourage or (in many instances) resist the broader developments in British culture.
TH 3:30-4:45 PM
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE AUTHORS: MARLOWE AND MILTON
Dealing with the Devil: Narratives of the Fall in Marlowe and Milton
In English 382 we will pair canonical Early-Modern texts with contemporary re-imaginings in print, visual, and audio mediums. We will think rigorously about the relationship between past and present, interrogating how the narratives of the past invent and are reinvented by the future. In this course we will play with issues of representation and imagination. We will question the ways that the retelling of narratives from texts by Marlowe and Milton challenge the basic historical narratives that inform periodization and provide opportunities for us to think differently about our own historical moment.
Prof. Jean Walton
W 4:00-6:45 PM
MODERNIST LITERATURE, RACE, SEX, WAR, AND NEUROSIS
In this advanced-level course on Modernist literature, we’ll plunge into the midst of World War I, where women and men were involved on a number of fronts, both at home (in England and the U.S.) and abroad (behind the trenches). We'll start by considering some works written during the war, by writers exploring the politics of pacifism and homosexuality (Allatini); the medical phenomenon of "shell shock" or "war neurosis" (West, Sassoon, Rivers); and the role of African Americans in wartime (Alice Dunbar Nelson). As we move into the 1920s, we'll examine how writers continued to explore the ramifications of the war for women and men, with a focus on post-war London (Woolf), on a Nebraska farm boy whose life is given meaning by war (Cather), on the horrors experienced by women ambulance drivers (Smith, Hall), on post-war cross-class eroticism (Lawrence), and on a famous American lesbian couple's adventures in France during the war (Stein). We'll compare Cather's representation of the soldier's experience to that of another woman writer, seventy years later, as she reflects back on gender, sexuality, and war neurosis (Barker). We will also consider some non-literary texts that give us insight into how the body was conceived as a system of nerves in an increasingly “enervating” world.
Prof. Karen Stein
M 4:00-6:45 PM
WOMEN WRITERS: TONI MORRISON
Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison is one of the preeminent writers of our time. She challenges us to re-think our deeply held beliefs about ourselves and our values, as she examines the tangled and complex issues of race, gender, and class in the context of American history and culture. Her powerful novels require readers to participate in unraveling their multi-layered meanings. Her novels and essays address central issues of human relationships: friendship, love, betrayal, and the ways that language works to promote or impede our mutual understanding.
T 4:00-6:45 PM
FUNDAMENTAL TEXTS IN MODERN GAY AND LESBIAN CULTURE
Study of literary works that trace the origins and ongoing definitions of medern homo/heterosexual identities.
Prof. Gina Valentino
TTH 12:30-1:45 PM
SPECIAL TOPICS IN LITERATURE:
WORKED: CLASS AND LABOR IN CONTEMPORARY MULTIETHNIC LITERATURE
On or around 1995 something called “the new economy” was born and entered the U.S. economic and social lexicon. As a phrase, “the new economy” was meant to signal, among other things, the dramatic and historical shift occurring in the United States from a manufacturing based economy to a national economy based on service, technology, and information. Broadly speaking, the new economy was meant to end work (jobs, personal labor, etc) as U.S. citizens knew it. In this course we will examine how complex relationships between work and identity changed in the United States under this new economic regime. This course will offer a selective survey of themes animating critical discourse about work and literature in the contemporary moment. Our discussions will engage (but not be limited to) the following questions: How has the new economy altered characteristics, expectations, and representations of work and workers? What are the connections between the job one performs and social class? Given the American Dream mythos, what does upward mobility look like now and what is its relation to meritocracy, corporate or otherwise? What compels the notable exploration of race and gender in these works? Furthermore, how do our texts understand or even manipulate new notions of economic power?
Texts for this course will include works by Octavia Butler, Karen Tei Yamashita, Luis J. Rodriguez, Suki Kim, Bret Easton Ellis, Thomas Harris, Ana Castillo, Louis Owens, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Helena Maria Viramontes, Louise Erdrich and Dorothy Allison.
M 7:00-9:45 PM
Studies in Shakespeare's drama and poetry.
TTH 2:00-3:15 PM
U.S. AUTHORS: WILLIAM FAULKNER
This class focuses on the work of modernist author William Faulkner. Both praised and criticized for the opacity of his prose, Faulkner’s novels are among the most important creative social critiques of the 20th century. Among our readings will be The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!, Sanctuary, Requiem for Nun, and A Light in August.
More specifically, we will consider the ways in which Faulkner theorized trauma in his work. What is a traumatic event?” Algerian philosopher Jacques Derrida asks. He goes on to respond: “First of all, any event worthy of this name, even if it is a happy event, has within it something that is traumatizing. An event always inflicts a wound in the everyday course of history, in the ordinary repetition and anticipation of all experience (96). Derrida continues: “The ordeal of the event has as its tragic correlate not what is presently happening or what has happened in the past but the precursory signs of what threatens to happen. It is the future that determines the unappropriability of the event, not the present or the past.” We will explore Faulkner’s characterization of trauma in these specifically Derridian terms—through wounds that appear not on the body but on the psyche and that understand themselves temporally.
Prof. Carolyn Betensky
TTH 2:00-3:15 PM
BRITISH AUTHORS: ANTHONY TROLLOPE
This semester, we will read some of the best loved novels of Anthony Trollope, a hilarious and astute observer of middle-class Victorian lives and aspirations. For those of you who have never heard of or read Trollope’s novels before: you are in for a treat. Titles we are likely to read include Barchester Towers, The Eustace Diamonds, The Way We Live Now, Can You Forgive Her? and He Knew He Was Right.
Prof. Jennifer Jones
T 10:00-12:45 PM
INTRODUCTION TO PROFESSIONAL STUDIES
Prof. Ryan Trimm
T 7:00-9:45 PM
STUDIES IN CRITICAL THEORIES
Prof. Jean Walton
T 4-6:45 PM
BRITISH TEXTS AFTER 1900: NEUROLOGICAL MODERNITY
We will explore certain “case studies” which allow us to contemplate the overlapping preoccupations of British (and some European) cinema, psychoanalysis, and fiction in the first few decades of the 20th century. We’ll take a special interest in “the body” as it is imagined, documented, projected, and articulated in these discourses, considering its location at the intersection of the organic and the technological, the physical and the psychical, the material and the sublime. With Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, H.D., Pat Barker, and neurologist W.H.R. Rivers, for example, we will look at the “shell-shocked” body of the Great War; with Hans Prinzhorn, we will consider the art-making body of the institutionalized insane; with Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud and other commentators on the Schreber case, we will look at the miraculating body of the “paranoid” at the advent of fascism; with Marie Bonaparte and D. H. Lawrence, we will encounter the self-pleasuring body of the “clitoridal” woman; with Modernist expressionist filmmakers, the female body as technological mediator. We’ll be taking note of when the body is imagined as whiteness always under threat of racial impurity, as the material site for hysterical eruptions, as the receptor of delicious voluptuousness, as neurological machine, as hallucination, as waste.
Prof. Mary Cappello
W 7-9:45 PM
SEMINAR IN AUTHORS: SONTAG, BARTHES, BALDWIN
“Who speaks is not who writes, and who writes is not who is.” --Roland Barthes
”Let the essay avow itself almost a novel.” Roland Barthes on Roland Barthes
This seminar will give graduate students the opportunity to investigate the relationship between their own “critical” and “creative” ego and voice; to develop their literary-theoretical acumen; and to deepen their knowledge of significant 20th century intellectual traditions in the United States and France. Taking as our impetus a writer famous for his theorizations of the death of the author, we’ll immerse ourselves in the work of Sontag, Barthes and Baldwin, asking new questions about authorship and essay (as verb and noun) at every turn. Creative nonfiction. Literary nonfiction. Lyric Essay. Today we use these terms to refer to writing that, it could be argued, has existed formally for centuries but did not call itself such. Why is this so, and what can we discover about nonfiction form by studying the writing of three of its most important practitioners working in the decades following the Second World War? How did each writer re-interpret the autobiographical impulse? Were they founders of a discourse in the Foucauldian sense? Public intellectuals in the Gramscian sense? Can we read nonfiction using the same reading apparati that we bring to the study of poetry and fiction? We’ll read each writer’s respectively ground-breaking work on film, music, and photography; we’ll examine the controversies—intellectual and political—that their work generated; we’ll discover how these writers were (and are) written about, and pursue the implications of their variously iconic status—their relative fetishization or relative neglect. In addition to reading “signature” work (following, and challenging, the mandates of “auteur” theory), we’ll study these writers’ marginalia and their newly published journals; we’ll investigate the genre of the “note”—e.g., Barthes and Sontag’s famous “notes on…,” and Baldwin’s “notes of…”; we’ll chart the means by which each “liberated the critic as artist,” and formulate together their various relationships to truth-telling when, following their cues, we query writing as an intransitive verb. What intellectual traditions were Sontag, Barthes and Baldwin a part of, and what is the significance of each of these writer’s oblique or closeted relationship to her sexuality? Anti-essay. Short form. Aphorism. Invented form: the nonfiction projects of Baldwin, Sontag, and Barthes will enable us to theorize this genre as a “poetics of thinking.” Students will be expected to attempt an essay “in the manner of” either Baldwin, Barthes, or Sontag; to carry out independent research that might lead to periodic oral presentations in class; and to compose a final, analytic essay using a carefully drawn thematic lens—i.e., the idea of mourning, of freedom, of inanity, of pain, of complicity, of culture, of eros, of study, of race, of the ludic, etc. in Baldwin, Barthes, or Sontag. This is a newly designed course: therefore, Prof. Cappello asks that she not be approached for a reading list until the start of the semester.
Prof. John Leo
TH 7:00-9:45 PM
SEMINAR IN HISTORICAL PERIODS: CINEMA AND MODERNISM
The quite general focus for this seminar is “Cinema and Modernism,” but that’s already pretty daunting. The cookie cut would suggest engaging benchmark themes or major categories usually associated with Westernized modernism and modernity (roughly 1870s-1930s for the early to “high” phase), e.g. science (and space, place, time, technology), the body and bodies, colonialism, or the growing impress and affects of consumption, marketing, always already new media (eg. TV), the “society of the spectacle,” as these commingle and create new forms of artistic expression and social interaction—mass culture. The “historicism” here would call for a “media archeology” of the sort found on CTheory, which is entirely legit and useful. But: my druthers with this seminar are to take on the concept itself of “periodization” in a comparatist way. It’s my goal to investigate how installation, exhibition, marketing, and related legitimation practices with films (and mostly after the 1930s) riffed on modernist themes and topics of aesthetic “dehierarchization” in the established visual arts (after Winfried Fluck and others) to willy-nilly create, expand on, and socially “penetrate” with, increasingly complex—and basic—modes of “visual literacy.” The fragmentation of “modern life” has been always already a topic of any “period,” which by default must conceive of itself as, well, modern, what’s “the case.” How do widely (spatially, temporally, culturally) dispersed cultures in various regimes of “modernist” cultural (sociopolitical, colonial, etc.) regimes “see”? The course will be built around selected films mainly from the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Another aim of the seminar is to encourage students to think about, and develop, possible dissertation chapters, papers for conferences, and the like. Of course this means that literary/film topics are welcome, including adaptations. If you are thinking of exploring a research topic which involves modernism and film, however conceived, you might want to consider this open-ended seminar. Possible readings and viewings would center on theorists, writers, or filmmakers such as David Bordwell (Figures Traced in Light—and other titles), Lisa Gitelman (Always Already New), David Trotter (Cinema and Modernism), András Bálint Kovács (Screening Modernism), and Zhang Ke Jia (his film Sanxia haoren Still Life) and other world filmmakers exemplifying seminar concerns and issues.
Prof. Jennifer Jones
TH 1-3:45 PM
SEMINAR IN SUBJECTIVITIES: ROMANTIC EDUCATION
Rethinking the ideals, goals, forms, and access to education is at the heart of reform, and it is requisite to lasting change even in the radicalized contexts of revolution and revolt. British Romanticism (roughly 1780-1830) is a period constituted both by the tumult of revolution (the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution ) and by active and passionate reform ( the anti-slavery controversy and its slow but steady movement toward abolition of the slave trade and of slavery itself; the women’s movement that agitated for a rethinking of the roles of women, which took inspiration directly from the slavery debates and reformist legislation associated with it). It is no surprise, then, that such things as the definition of childhood, children’s literature, female education, educational methods, forms, and models, including institutional models, and the value and purpose of literature, philosophy, and history are widely debated and richly theorized in ways that not only prove definitive of the period itself but also continue to influence our ideas of education, pedagogy, and institution today. In an effort to become able to think with sophistication about the concepts of humanities education and pedagogy both historically and in the present moment, we will read philosophy, political treatises, poetry, novels, and educational history of the Romantic era as well as cultural theory and literary criticism of the 20th and 21st centuries that address the topics. Selections might include Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, William Godwin, Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man, Geoffrey Hartman, Mary Jacobus, Gayatri Spivak, Alan Richardson, Mary Wollstonecraft, Amelia Opie, Anna Letitia Barbauld, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Madame de Staël, Charlotte Brontë, and others.
Prof. Naomi Mandel
TTH 9:30-10:45 PM
HONORS COURSE IN LITERATURE: LITERATURES OF ABILITY AND DISABILITY
This course will look at stories people tell about bodies: about what the body can do, what it can't, how it enlightens, when it betrays. We will focus on fiction because in fiction, the body's abilities and disabilities are not only a source of insight into diverse experiences and social constructions of marginality and normalcy, but a vehicle for exploring the nature of humanity and its limits. The novels, stories, and films we will encounter in this course will explore what it means to live with a deformed arm, with bulemia, with mental impairment. We will ask questions like these: What is an ability? How are our abilities different from our disabilities? How are our abilities and disabilities the source of knowledge about others and about ourselves? Can we count on our abilities or on our disabilities to lead us to knowledge, to love, to truth?