Fall 2022

Fall 2022

350:536 - Culture and Revolution: 1625-1688

Course No:  350:536
Index #: 14715
Distribution Requirement:  A2
Thursday - 3:50 p.m.
MU 207

Culture and Revolution: 1625-1688
Ann Baynes Coiro

Christopher Hill rightly calls the seventeenth century the “century of revolution.” A high-handed executive branch tries to operate alone. Ardent Protestants protest a mainstream culture they find ungodly. Black men and women become dehumanized items of exchange in the colonies. Women assume an increasingly central but controversial role across British society. Resistance grows to scientific advances that unsettle old ways of thinking. Man-made environmental damage becomes an ethical flashpoint. Credit and resulting debt enable an explosion of growth but also threaten economic disaster. War simmers and then breaks out on the border. An almost unimaginable series of civil wars erupts, opening a space to imagine a reorganization of economic and political hierarchy. A time of extraordinary cultural and political disruption, the seventeenth century is, as the 1619 Project has underscored, foundational in disturbing and still reverberating ways.

This course explores a range of poetry, prose and drama written from the beginning of Charles I’s reign (1625) through the English Civil Wars, the Interregnum, Restoration and the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688. These years witness some of the most brilliant writing of the early modern period: work, for example, by John Donne, Ben Jonson, Anne Bradstreet, Andrew Marvell, Lucy Hutchinson, Margaret Cavendish, John Milton, Hester Pulter, John Dryden and Aphra Behn, as well as the Civil War Putney Debates and radical writers such as Gerard Winstanley and Abiezer Coppe.

Our central questions will be: One, what is literary culture’s complicated role in any revolutionary moment. To what extent does literary culture produce revolution? Or react to it? Two, to what extent do we as critics project our own political viewpoint on the past? And how does the convulsive rupture of any revolution shape, perhaps disrupt, our subsequent, often partisan, understanding? How do we negotiate the ethics of historical equivalence that appropriates the past to neatly explain the present? Three, what is the impact of trauma, particularly the trauma of slavery and civil war, on canonical literature? How has trauma refigured or erased the enemies/ causes of guilt? How has that trauma shaped the canonical literature that shapes us to this day?           

Over the course of the semester participants will write five three- to four-page memos that will be published to the class before seminar meetings. Students will then choose one of their memos to develop into a 12-page conference paper OR into an article draft.

Article Writing Workshop

Course No:  -----
Index # ------
Distribution Requirement:  -----
Monday - 5:00 p.m.
MU 107

Article Writing Workshop
Lauren Goodlad

What is a scholarly article in your field and what are some best practices for helping you to draft, edit, submit, and publish one? What are the key differences between a dissertation chapter and a manuscript submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal? How does one build from a successful conference paper into a publishable essay (or vice versa)?

This seminar approaches these questions in both theory and practice. Our main tasks entail active workshopping of student papers in preparation for submission to a particular journal, culminating in actual submission and advance preparation for potential next steps to come.

Assigned activities for all seminar members include: interviewing a professor in your field for advice as to target journals; sharing a “dream” article and identifying its key strengths; finding your argument via an “x-ray” of its skeleton; inhabiting the role of editor/peer-reviewer; formulating a comprehensive set of best practices (including drafting, editing, submitting, revising, communicating, and proofreading; learning to support peers through the editorial learning curve).

350:595 - Space, Place, and African Literature

Course No:  350:595
Index #: 14720  
Distribution Requirement:  A5, B, C
Wednesday - 3:50 p.m.   
MU 207

Space, Place, and African Literature
Stéphane Robolin

This course offers an introduction to spatial theory as one lens (among others) for reading twentieth- and twenty-first-century African literatures.  It will feature foundational texts in geography and spatial theory and more recent analyses that account for race, gender, and colonialism.  We will also be taking up primary texts in African literatures from across the continent, with one subsection focused on South Africa.  Our work will involve thinking through these sets of readings in conjunction, with particular emphasis on how theoretical readings help us re-read the literature before us and, conversely, how literature invites us to re-think/revise some of the theory at hand. 

The course will begin by positioning colonial modernity as a fundamental crisis in social space and social power, and it then moves toward articulating the spatial dimensions of colonial and postcolonial African identities.  Much of the course will be organized around exploring how space, place, and race mutually constitute one another in African literatures.  Beyond considering how segregated spaces organize social and psychic life, we will explore questions relating to displacement, dislocation, alienation, the challenge of locating home, and the practice of place-making.  We will also attend to spatial dimensions of literary production, including the formal arrangement of words on the page and the geographical location of African writers.

Primary texts may include the following:

Yvette Christiansë’s Castaway, Fatou Diome’s The Belly of the Atlantic, Assia Djebar’s Women of Algiers in Their Apartments, Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood, Abdulrazak Gurnah’s By the Sea, Bessie Head’s A Question of Power, Dambudzo Marechera’s The House of Hunger, Phaswane Mpe’s Welcome to Our Hillbrow, S.E.K. Mqhayi’s Don Jadu, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Petals of Blood, Koleka Putuma’s Collective Amnesia, Sembène Ousmane’s Gods Bits of Wood,  Binyavanga Wainaina’s One Day I Will Write About This Place, and Zoë Wicomb’s Playing in the Light.

Critical readings may include selections from the following:

Avilez’s Black Queer Freedom, Baderoon’s Regarding Muslims, Glissant’s Poetics of Relation, Hofmeyr’s Reading Dockside, Krishnan’s Writing Spatiality in West Africa, Lefebvre’s The Production of Space, Doreen Massey’s Space, Place, and Gender, Mbembe’s Necropolitics, McKittrick’s Demonic Grounds, Philip’s A Genealogy of Resistance, Quayson’s Oxford Street, Accra, Smith’s Uneven Development, Tuan’s Space and Place, and Williams’s The Country and the City.

Evaluations will be based on consistent participation in discussions, in-class presentations, a midterm paper, an annotated bibliography, and a final paper.

350:562 - Wordsworth, Austen, and the Everyday

Course No:  350:562
Index #: 14717
Distribution Requirement:  A4, B
Wednesday - 12:10 p.m.    
MU 207

Wordsworth, Austen, and the Everyday
William Galperin and Nancy Yousef (team-taught)

This seminar affords an opportunity for close study of the two most important British authors of the early nineteenth century, William Wordsworth and Jane Austen.  In addition to their centrality for the moment in which they wrote—the Romantic period—the novelist and the poet had even more significant afterlives, both in the development of the novel and concerning matters of subjectivity and being in the world.  Readings from George Eliot, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf will bring these continuities into focus, particularly the partnership of Romanticism and realism, which is generally overlooked in the standard divisions of literary history and knowledge.

Our examination of these writers will unfold alongside an engagement with theoretical and cultural studies of the "everyday" and the "ordinary"—keywords in Wordsworth's and Austen's aesthetic practice.  Wordsworth's aspiration to compose a poetry of "common life" (against the transcendental impulses of "high" romantic lyric) and Austen's attention to modest domestic dramas (against the exhilarations of the gothic and the fantastic) reflect a shared commitment to the "ordinary" and the "common" that is formal as well as thematic and ultimately far-reaching. We will therefore be exploring a relationship that is, on the one hand, contemporary and timebound regarding the region of the everyday (at a particular moment of literary and cultural production) and, on the other hand, transhistorical, involving anthropological, phenomenological, and philosophical accounts of the ordinary in the writings of such thinkers as Maurice Blanchot, Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefebvre, Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.L. Austin, Stanley Cavell, Veena Das, and Jane Bennet.    

The seminar will be of particular value to students interested in Romanticism, in the nineteenth century, in the development of realism, in intersections between philosophy and literature, and in the relationship between two dominant currents of postwar cultural theory: phenomenology and philosophy of language.

Requirements: Weekly 1-page response paper; final seminar paper (20 pages).

Inquiries to:

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350:566 - Imagining the Collective in the Nineteenth-Century Novel

Course No:  350:566
Index #: 14718 
Distribution Requirement:  A4
Tuesday - 3:50 p.m.
MU 207

Imagining the Collective in the Nineteenth-Century Novel
David Kurnick

Even as it involved readers in the particular fates of a few spotlit imaginary people, the nineteenth-century realist novel also depicted an unprecedentedly expansive social canvas. This course will examine the novel’s ambition to represent the collective as a narrative, political, and ethical problem, and develop a vocabulary to account for the ways novelists attempt to solve that problem. We will be trying to multiply the ways we can talk about imaginative abstraction: How do the classic realist novelists build out from the details of individual lives to convey a sense of social amplitude (if “building out” is even an appropriate metaphor to describe the contours of fictional universes)? How is readerly attention managed between the foreground and background (if we can tell which is which)? What specific techniques did the novel develop to encourage a leap from the characterological to the social, or from the local to the global: analogy, symbolism, multi-plottedness, extreme typicality or extreme eccentricity, synecdoche, reverberation, etc? We will be trying to answer these questions in terms of concrete stylistic and narrative procedures, and to ask how these techniques work with or interfere with one another. And we will be considering key theorists of the named containers—sexual partnership, family, race, nation, empire, class—that mediate the collective at different scales, and asking whether and where those entities find expression in narrative form.

We’ll combine close readings of a number of major primary texts with theoretical and critical material. Because nineteenth-century fiction’s aspiration to social representation was related to developments in adjacent cultural domains, we’ll be tracing the formal and historical exchanges between fiction and the genres of anthropology, sociology, history, statistics, and urban reportage. We’ll also be considering Marxist theories of totality, classic sociology’s notion of the ideal type, and more recent philosophical accounts of social assemblage and social complexity.

 This course fulfills distribution requirement A4, and will be taught as a 600-level course, which means one seminar paper of ~20 pp. and (very likely) a presentation during the semester.

Novelists: Austen, Balzac, Dickens, Eliot, Galdós, Gissing, Rizal

Critics and Theorists: Benedict Anderson, Erich Auerbach, Mikhail Bakhtin, Pierre Bourdieu, Elaine Freedgood, Catherine Gallagher, Lauren Goodlad, Christopher Herbert, Audrey Jaffe, Fredric Jameson, Anna Kornbluh, Bruno Latour, Georg Lukács, Karl Marx, Claire Pettit, Mary Poovey, Bruce Robbins, Edward Said, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Emily Steinlight, Raymond Williams, Alex Woloch