Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University

01  MW8  CAC   14280  IBIRONKE   TIL-103A

In the postmodern present, when the basis for consensus on what constitutes facts is gradually being eroded, the conventional status of documentary and material archives are also called into question. The focus of this course is to familiarize students with methods for sorting through and working with superabundant sources: primary, secondary, and anonymous, etc., in order to develop critical approaches to literary studies.

We will begin with George Orwell’s 1984 and the essay by Grégoire Chamayou “Every move will be recorded,” which describes the machinic police utopia in 18th-century Paris, as a way of exploring how technologies of surveillance and communication can function in automatic archive creation and intersect with ideologies to produce unintended consequences, including dystopia. We will study the intersections of photography and criminology, and literary archeology.  We will also examine how institutional and personal memories are constituted and reconstituted.

Although writers are usually not required to produce a list of their sources, yet, creative writers often consult archives and libraries in the process of writing. Insight into those sources can greatly enrich readers' experience of literary works. Thus, we will conclude this course by focusing on the effects of various archives and such sources as oral archives, audio--visual

and documentary archives, and archives of memory as they affect the creation and

understanding of literature.


SAS Core Code: Philosophical and Theoretical Issues (AHo)

Required texts:

Merewether: The Archive

Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever.

Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past

Michael Ondaatje Anil’s Ghost

Essays (on Sakai):

Carolyn Hamilton Refiguring the Archive (selections)

Antoniette Burton, Archive Stories (selections)

Films and Documentary:

1984 George Orwell

The Name of the Rose

Jean-Marie Teno's documentary Colonial Misunderstanding

Allah Tantou

The Manuscripts of Timbuktu.


Class time will be divided between lectures, presentations, and active student participation. Students will be required to post reading reports and write two essays. Attendance is mandatory.

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 Undergraduate Students


Graduate Program in English


Statue of "Willie the Silent"