Thematic Title: Legal Fictions of the Enlightenment
Course Description: From bigamy and robbery to treason and murder, eighteenth-century novels obsessively depict illicit behavior. In this course, we consider the tension between law and lawlessness in a range of texts from the English Enlightenment. Alongside fiction, we read selections from treatises, pamphlets, and trials in order to study the legal and cultural contexts of our novels as well as to probe the rhetorical dimensions of law. Through close analysis of texts, we examine questions concerning justice and judgment, crime and punishment, gender and marriage, testimony and evidence, and legal terror and popular violence. The course ultimately aims to give you an understanding of the role of law in the development of the novel as well as a grounding in the fiction and culture of a formative period of literary history.
Readings: Authors will likely include Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Frances Burney, William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Walter Scott; secondary readings by Martha Nussbaum, Robert Cover, E.P. Thompson, John Bender, Michel Foucault, and others.
Requirements: Approx. 150-200 pages of reading per week; two essays; a final exam; a presentation and lively participation; several short reading responses.
We will read such representative plays as Hamlet, The Tempest, and King Lear, drawn from the four major genres: tragedy, history, romance, and comedy. Our class discussions will focus on the plays, their language, themes and dramatic techniques.
Readings: William Shakespeare, The Norton Shakespeare, 2nd edition (Norton)
Assignments: One or two oral presentations, one researched term paper (ca. 10pp.); midterm examination; comprehensive final examination; class participation; and regular attendance.
Thematic Title: 21st Century Science Fiction
Course Description: This course will consider science fiction film, television, prose, and graphic narrative of the last decade. How have the creators of various science fictions commented on such contemporary crises as climate change, the financial collapse, undocumented immigration, 9/11, and the Iraq War? What is the role of science fiction in articulating these debates? What is the relationship between science fiction, politics, and culture in the contemporary moment? William Gibson has noted that “the sort of thing we used to think in science fiction has colonized the rest of our reality”; our task will be to investigate how and why we read science fiction in an era when, in the words of Kim Stanley Robinson, “we are now living in a science fiction novel that we are all writing together.”
Readings: Texts to be discussed may include such works as Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Octavia Butler’s Fledgling, Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, China Miéville’s The City and the City, Children of Men, Avatar, Inception, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, WALL-E, Ian Banks’s “Culture” novels, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Ray Kurweil’s predictions of the coming Singularity, and recent work from J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon.
Assignments: Two shorter papers, one final paper, in-class presentations, weekly responses.
4810 Race / Ethnicity / Identity in American Literature: Literature of the Nadir Period (1877-1940) and Beyond
Readings: Reed, Ishmael and Carla Blank. Pow Wow: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience. Short Fiction from Then to Now. 2009. Reed, Ishmael. From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry. Across the Americas, 1900-2002. 2003. Loewen, James W. Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History. Treuer, David. Rez Life. 2012.This course fulfills the "Diverse Cultures" requirement for the core of common studies and encourages those interested in education, history, politics, anthropology, social justice, law, sociology and international affairs particularly.
4840 Postcolonial literature: 20th/21st century Global Fiction in English
Course Description: In this course, we will explore the literatures written in English since the 1960s in the so-called postcolonial world. The term "postcolonial" refers to the former colonies of Great Britain, whose empire once spanned a quarter of the globe. Readings will come from Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and Great Britain itself. We will be discussing issues that will be important to students of literature, history, philosophy, political science, and those interested in interdisciplinary questions of international affairs and peace studies. This course fulfills the "Diverse Cultures" requirement for the core of common studies.
Readings: Chinua Achebe - Things Fall Apart; J. M. Coetzee - Age of Iron; Tsitsi Dangarembga - Nervous Conditions; Jamaica Kincaid - A Small Place; Ngugi - Devil on the Cross; Jean Rhys - Wide Sargasso Sea
Assignments: Two formal written essays (5-7 pages), a brief Web 2.0 project on the political and social contexts of a novel, group oral presentation, active class participation, midterm and final examinations
Course Description: Playwrights from Aeschylus to Tony Kushner have attempted to stage the divine in various manners and manifestations. This course will explore some of these attempts with an eye toward what they, as cultural products, reveal about the various contexts in which these plays were written and performed. Representative readings from classical antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and our own era will be considered, as will the always-complicated relationship between organized religion and the stage.Readings: Playwrights we will study: Aeschylus, Euripides, Christopher Marlowe, John Osborne, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot, Tony Kushner, John Patrick Shanley, and others.