CULTURE, DESIRE AND THE UNCONSCIOUS II
Continuing from last semester's investigation of Freud and culture the course will pay particular attention to the writings of the late Freud on eros, civilisation, the death drive and the pleasure principle. Those who did not attend last semester are welcome to take Part II. Readings: Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle and Civilisation and Its Discontents. Class meets 3/20-4/5
An intensive study of Beowulf and the critical literature surrounding it. We will first read the poem in translation, then move slowly through the text in Old English, addressing the key problems and questions that have dominated recent scholarship. Previous experience reading Old English will be necessary. Requirements include regular reading and contribution to class discussion, a lexicography project, a translation exercise, and a research paper. Cross List MI 60111 4 seats
SHAKESPEARE: EDITING & PERFORMANCE
You pick up a copy of Shakespeare - but what is the object you are holding? This course will explore the history, theory and practice of editing Shakespeare as an example of the complex issues in editing literary/dramatic texts. From the work of early modern printers, through the tradition of 18th century editions (Rowe to Malone), towards current, 21st century editorial practice and the future of online/print editions, we will investigate how practice has shaped theory and vice versa. In particular, we will be concerned with the problematics of the representation of performance (early, recent, possible) in text/paratext/commentary. Work required will include editing segments of Shakespeare plays (generating text, collation, commentary), attending performance(s) as well as experimenting with possible new ways in which a Shakespeare edition might be conceived and, of course, writing a substantial research paper. Cross List LIT 73202 2 seats
THE RISE OF ENGLISH LITERATURE: MEDIEVAL BOOK PRODUCTION AND READING PRACTICES (THEIR AND OURS)
The Ricardian ‘Golden Age’ gave birth to what Chaucer’s literary executors and disciples suddenly recognized as a national literature, largely the result of the immigration of a young, under-employed clerical “proletariat” who found jobs in the burgeoning Westminster civil service. This included alliterative poets of the West, Continentally influenced writers of the South and East, and less noticed contributors from the out-posted colonial civil service in Dublin. Recent discoveries in manuscript studies and medieval reading practices (focusing on performative, meditational, allegorical, mnemonic, and cognitive methods) have changed how we approach this "Rise of English." Scholars are now tracing its roots ever earlier, certainly in the Edwardian period, and sometimes even back to the Anglo-Saxons. The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English (Oxford, 2010), which will be one of our guides in this course, offers the first scholarly attempt to harness major critical approaches of the 21st century by integrating these methods into mainstream criticism. It also departs from 20th-century criticism by integrating both Old and Middle English literature into each of its essays, emphasizing continuities between the eras rather than rupture. This course will cover book production, reading communities, courtly, clerical and bureaucratic elites, and emergent "Englishness," diversities in the "national literature," and the rising importance of women's writing.To accommodate those who may be new to Middle English studies, we will begin with easier texts and work backwards to the Early Middle English texts (which will be read in short selections). Authors or works to be covered, in whole or in selections, may include: Christina of Markyate, The Owl and the Nightingale, the "Kildare" Lyrics, the Arundel Lyrics, the Harley Lyrics, King Horn, Susannah, St. Erkenwald, the Z-Text of Piers Plowman, Chaucer (one early dream vision, and selected Canterbury Tales), Hoccleve (Complaint and Dialogue), Gamelyn, and some of the London Carthusian house's women writers, such as Julian of Norwich and Marguerite Porete. Cross List LIT 73204 2 seats; MI 60189 4 seats
THE PSALTER: LYRIC AND COMMUNITY
The Psalter was arguably the “soundtrack” of the Middle Ages and beyond: resource for lyric exploration of the subject as well as for the expression of religious community, the center of both clerical identity and lay devotion, the psalms were ubiquitous. This course will consider uses of the Psalter from the late medieval to early modern period. After familiarizing ourselves with the Psalter itself, we will examine various literary and liturgical practices involving the psalter as well as psalter translations and their (sometimes controversial) reception from the 14th through the 16th centuries. Our study will also introduce several different methodological approaches, including critical theory (theories of the lyric, theories of performance), manuscript studies, textual editing, and various historicisms. Individual projects can allow further exploration of any of these methodologies or a felicitous combination thereof. Primary texts beyond the Vulgate/Douay-Rheims Psalter will include selected Middle English and Early Modern lyrics, excerpts from Piers Plowman, and Psalter translations by Maidstone, Rolle, the Lollards, Lydgate, Sternhold and Hopkins, and Philip and Mary Sidney.
Requirements will include a few short papers, presentations, and one seminar-length final project. The course can be used to satisfy the English Department’s “theory” requirement if the final seminar paper is primarily based in critical theory. Cross List LIT 73205 2 seats; MI 60190 4 seats
READING REVOLUTIONS: STUDIES IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
The distinctive feature of the long eighteenth century lay partly in the rediscovery of classical values, but above all in the impetus created by a series of revolutions—scientific, religious, political, social and economic. We will explore representations of these revolutions in writers from Dryden to Burke. Cross List LIT 73206 2 seats
The course will emphasize the variety of the nineteenth-century novel by reading canonical works (e. g. novels by Dickens, Brontë, Eliot) together with texts from traditions that did not make it into the canon. This approach will enable us to ask such questions as what has the term Victorian novel come to mean? What did the Victorians expect from a novel? The course will ask as well questions such as “What work does the marriage plot do in the Victorian novel?” and “How do these novels envision social reform?” Cross List LIT 73207 2 seats
POSTWAR BRITISH POETRY: LYRIC AND SOCIETY
The course will, among other things, introduce students to genre studies—but its polemics will soon exceed them (at least as they tend to play out in the U.S.), and therein lies much of the point of the exercise. It’ll begin with reactionary postwar poetry in Britain: the infamous “Movement” against “Modernism” (with a capital M) as the latter was associated with both ideological extremism in pre-war Europe and with American-driven poetic experiment’s displacements of both lyric subject and syntax—which Movement poet-critic Donald Davie allied with “threaten[ing] the rule of law in the civilized community,” “choosing a leader out of the ruck” (Purity of Diction in English Verse, 1952). The course will end with Britain’s 21st-century avant-garde, which has developed something that post-postmodern poets Stateside—now referred to as “post-avant”—have yet to fathom: what John Wilkinson in Lyric Touch (2007) describes as “political lyric.” Students should emerge from the course with a good sense of what’s been happening on the British scene since Auden left it in 1939, since both sides of its radically (all but pathologically) divided terrain, mainstream vs. experimental, will be studied. They should also have formed an understanding of why, say, Adorno is the main theorist British experimental poetics still engages with—rather than Heidegger, the muse of the U.S. scene—and why “lyric” has had a completely different ride there: i.e., why it was never relinquished as it was in the U.S., with some fanfare, at the outset of “postmodernism,” and why it’s returned—the ultimate irony!—to power Britain’s post-911 avant-garde. Cross List LIT 73208 2 seats
POST-WAR LITERATURE AND IRISH EMIGRATION
This course will examine Irish prose writing and drama of the 1950s and 60s, in the context of large scale emigration to Britain. Areas of discussion will include: the impact of emigration and the emigrant experience on literary form; theories of race and population; developments within literary realism; the gendered experience of emigration. Writers studied will include M.J. Molloy, Edna O’Brien, Donall Mac Amhlaigh, John McGahern, Tom Murphy. Alongside the literary texts a considerable degree of attention will be paid to historical studies of post-war Britain and Ireland, and sociological studies of race and immigration.
FORMS OF DEMOCRACY IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY U.S. LITERATURE
This course will explore two central concerns in American literary studies: what is “democratic” about literature written in the United States? And how does the problem of representative politics influence literary and textual representation? From F.O. Matthiessen’s definition of a canon of five authors who shared a “devotion to the possibilities of democracy” in American Renaissance (1941); to the efforts to broaden that Cold War canon to be more democratically representative in the anthology projects and multicultural criticism of the 1980s; to the New Americanist project of decoupling “democracy” and “America” in order to critique U.S. imperial hegemony in the 1990s and 2000s, democracy has been a central concept in the study of U.S. literature. One emphasis of this course will be on historical and contemporary theories of democracy as they relate to literary texts.
A second emphasis will be on textual forms as they figure in democratic theory. The possibilities of democracy today are frequently tied to new media, notably the Internet, which for some observers promises to realize ideals of participation and transparency. New media enthusiasts of the nineteenth century saw similar democratic possibilities for immediacy and the diffusion of knowledge in the electric telegraph. An older tradition dating at least to the Reformation, with important exponents in the antebellum U.S., identifies democracy with print culture and literacy. Yet another view saw the “logocracy” of public speech and the emergent popular, participatory forms of the drama and the spectacle as essentially democratic. Specific literary genres – the novel; free verse – have also been characterized as “democratic,” while critics have vigorously debated the political effects of particular literary styles, notably sentimentality.
Our readings will include classic and contemporary works of democratic theory; critical readings that explore the relationship between verbal and political representation; and a range of literary works that foreground the problem of mediation and its relationship to democratic politics. Among these literary works will be Moby-Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, House of the Seven Gables, selections from Dickinson’s manuscript fascicles and Whitman’s hybrid oral-print poetry, Fuller’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century, Boucicault’s The Octoroon, William Apess’s Eulogy on King Philip, selected speeches by Daniel Webster, Henry Highland Garnet, and Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown’s Clotel, and John Rollin Ridge’s Joaquin Murieta. Cross List LIT 73209 2 seats
PROBLEMS OF (NON)MODERNITY: DELIBERATE READING IN A PANARCHIC WORLD
This seminar will use selected literary texts to explore two related theoretical questions: How do we read literatures in a world dominated by the methods, knowledges, and technologies of the sciences? And how does learning to read afresh—“deliberate” reading, in Thoreau’s phrase—teach us how to renew the “liberal arts” (which surely include the sciences) at a time when they are newly on the defensive? Our starting premises will be that this problem is generated by modernity and is brought to a particular point of productive tension in the nineteenth-century United States, where democratic theory was pitched against modern industrial capitalism; and that returning to this moment, the alpha to our own omega, can suggest pathways for future critical work. For literary studies today are in the early stages of a theoretical breakthrough that will move beyond the binaries of modernity—“science and literature,” “nature and culture,” "subject and object"—to new, nonmodern modes of reading and praxis that draw on all sides of the traditional dualisms.
In hopes of contributing to this project, we will experiment with reading as a practice of mobility across a variety of boundaries (both geographic and disciplinary), and across scale levels from local to planetary, arrayed in panarchic rather than hierarchic relationships. We will focus on a limited number of literary works, all of which engage literature and exploration science—including Thoreau’s Walden and one or two other of his writings, Melville’s Moby-Dick, and Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym—and use them to explore a somewhat wider range of theoretical works drawn from ecocriticism, posthumanism, science studies, earth systems and resilience theory, spatial theory, critical cosmopolitanism, and animal studies, including such authors as Derrida, Foucault, Michel Serres, Bruno Latour, Isabelle Stengers, Donna Haraway, Cary Wolfe, and J. M. Coetzee. Students will, in addition to weekly response papers, write a substantive essay in which they test our theoretical explorations through a “deliberate” reading of a text of their choice, possibly, but not necessarily, drawn from nineteenth-century American literature. That is, the crossing of both national and disciplinary boundaries will be encouraged. Note that this course is cross-listed with History and Philosophy of Science. Cross List HPS 93641 2 seats; LIT 73201 2 seats
INTRODUCTION TO THE PRACTICE OF COMPARATIVE LITERATURE: FICTIONS OF
A practical introduction to comparative literary analysis through intensive focus on a single genre, the Bildungsroman, or “novel of development.” By concentrating on some of the many different meanings of the term “development” (personal, literary, historical, economic) we will investigate how literature has been conceptualized as a vehicle of personal formation on the one hand, and as a mirror of social transformation on the other. Primary readings of novels from the late eighteenth century to the present will be accompanied by a number of critical and theoretical texts. Students will also work to create a joint bibliography mapping recent trends in the discipline. Authors will include Goethe, Stendhal, Machado de Assis, E. Bowen, M. Macgoye, K. Husseini, and V. Swarup. Cross List LIT 73566 15 seats
RELIGION & LIT: IN THE LIGHT OF JOB
Taking the lead from Primo Levi’s suggestion that the Book of Job can provide a starting point for the interpretation of all texts, this course explores the light that the Book of Job can shed on our understanding of the relationship between literary and theological reflection. An initial reading of the Book of Job itself will open up the questions (concerning, for example, human vulnerability and divine unknowability) that will then provide the conceptual focus for the rest of the course. We will look first at the work of Gregory the Great, which will in turn lead us to texts by Dante, Julian of Norwich and Catherine of Siena; and then, following this, to Shakespeare. The course will then close by returning to Primo Levi, as a way of bringing the various texts studied more immediately into contact with our contemporary context. Through exploration of the material and questions addressed throughout the course, and in conversation with contemporary literary and theological studies, students will be invited to reflect closely on the distinctive contribution that the coming together of literary and theological reflection can make to our thinking about meaning and truth. Cross List ENGL 90916 2 seats; MI 63585 2 seats; LLRO 63213 10 seats; LIT 73571 3 seats; THEO 60265 1 seat