B6 5/29-7/6 TTH 6:00-9:40 PM CAC 04333 HARRIS SC-121
Is Literature Global Yet?
In our current political and cultural environment, we hear terms like globalization, neoliberalism, and neoimperialism thrown around on a daily basis, as if the distinguishing feature of late-20th- and early-21st-century life is this peculiar sense of “feeling global.” As the story goes, we have never lived in a more global age. But what exactly does this mean? Was there ever a local age? When exactly did the world become global? What makes the present more global than the past, especially given the global histories of imperialism, or the recent spate of nationalist and “anti-globalist” movements across Europe and North America? What does it mean for literature to be global, especially when considered in relation to other geopolitical scales, such as local, regional, national, or international? Can we imagine a future in which the world will become even more global? What is literature’s role in imagining such a future?
As we pose answers to these questions, we will consider a range of fiction and drama from the 20th and early-21st centuries. Topics of conversation will include: the history, aftermath, and continuing influence of Empire and colonialism; environmentalism and natural catastrophe; language, translation, and circulation; and global capitalism and the literary marketplace. Primary readings are likely to include work by Chinua Achebe, Caryl Churchill, Elena Ferrante, debbie tucker green, Sarah Kane, Lucy Kirkwood, Jhumpa Lahiri, Andrea Levy, Helen Oyeyemi, Caryl Phillips, Harold Pinter, Salman Rushdie, Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, and others. Additionally, we will read a series of postcolonial, feminist, and Marxist critical texts on the notion of “the global” as it relates to literature and life in general.
Grades for this course will be determined by weekly writing assignments and a final paper.