These courses are offered periodically with varying content: one or more individual writers, a genre, or an approach to the literature of this historical period not otherwise provided in the English curriculum. Requirements will include papers and, at the discretion of the instructor, examinations. Enrollment is limited to 30. Dist: LIT. WCult: Varies
53.10 - In 13F at 11, Immigrant Women Writing in America (formerly 62.10)
(Identical to WGST 47.1)
In responding to the obstacles facing America's immigrants -- problems of dislocation, split identity, family disunity and claustrophobia, culture shock, language barriers, xenophobia, economic marginality, and racial and national oppression -- women often assume special burdens and find themselves having to invent new roles. They often bring powerful bicultural perspectives to their tasks of survival and opportunity seeking, however, and are increasingly active in struggles for cultural expression and social and economic justice. We will examine the different conditions for women in a variety of immigrant groups in America, reading in several histories, anthologies of feminist criticism, interdisciplinary surveys, and relevant texts in critical theory, but ultimately focusing on the words, in autobiography and fiction, of women writers. We will read such works as Akemi Kikimura's Through Harsh Winters: The Life of a Japanese Immigrant Woman; Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior; Bharati Mukerjee's Darkness; Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street; Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy; and Kim Chernin's In My Mother's House.
Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III, CA tags National Traditions and Countertraditions, Genders and Sexualities.
53.11 - In 13F at 10A, War and Gender (formerly 62.11)
(Identical to WGST 42)
Of all the cultural enterprises and big ticket myths in western history, probably none has been as strictly gendered as war. Traditionally, war has been constructed as powerfully gendered binary in which battle is posed as a nearly sacred and exclusively male domain through which young men are initiated into the masculine gender and the male bond. From the west's great classical war narrative of The Iliad onward, the feminine has, by contrast, been defined as that which instigates male-male conflict and that which wars are fought either to save or protect, be it a war to rescue Helen of Troy, to avenge the raped women of Kuwait whose plight was invoked as a cause for the l991 Gulf War, one to protect the faithful (or faithless and betraying) wife at home, or a war to defend the ultimate national repository of the feminine ideal to be protected from the rapacious invasions of the enemy: America the Beautiful, mother land and virgin land. As a counterpart to the protection of the feminine imagined as belonging to one's own males, the narrative either tacitly or overtly allows a soldier to view the all "enemy" women as objects to be raped; and in the most recent wars of ethnic genocide of the 1990s onward, women in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan have become no longer just incidental victims or "collateral damage," but the primary objects of enemy destruction. Starting with the Gulf War, however, the strict spatialization of the American war myth was at least challenged by the new presence of women on the war front, women as POWs, and in the present war in Iraq, women coming home maimed and in body bags; and women have now been integrated—whether successfully or not-- into all of the U. S. military accredited academies. With a special although not exclusive concentration on U.S. culture of the past century, this course will take a look at film, fiction, non fiction and biography, news media and online material, in tracing the strongly gendered myths and narratives that are wrapped up in the cultural understanding of War.
Dist: LIT: WCult: W. Course Group III. CA tags Genders and Sexualities, Cultural Studies and Popular Culture, National Traditions and Countertraditions.
53.20 - In 13F at 2A, Indian Killers: Murder and Mystery in Native Literature and Film (formerly 67.20)
(Identical to NAS 32)
This course explores the abundance of crime fiction and murder mysteries created by Native American artists in recent decades. For some, the genre provides an imaginative space for avenging the offenses of colonization. For others, it offers a democratized landscape where all are equal, where American law is malleable, and where intelligence and subversion triumph. While most critics applaud these decolonizing efforts, we will examine their darker implications as well: do these narratives do real cultural work, or do they simply cash in on a thrill-seeking, stereotype-infested, pop-cultural industry? Do such works reveal that colonial violence will beget only more-and bloodier-violence? And in the end, who are its true victims?
Dist: LIT; WCult: Cl. Course Group III, CA tags National Traditions and Countertraditions, Multicultural and Colonial/Postcolonial Studies, Cultural Studies and Popular Culture.
53.02 - In 14W at 12, Toni Morrison (formerly 67.11)
(Identical to AAAS 26)
This course is an intensive study of Toni Morrison's major fictional works. We will also read critical responses by and about the author. Required texts may include Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, Jazz, Paradise, Playing in the Dark, and critical contributions by writers such as Barbara Smith and Paul Gilroy. Some of the central issues we will examine include alternative constructions of female community and genealogy, and representations of race, class, nationhood and identity.
Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III. CA tags National Traditions and Countertraditions, Genre-narrative.
53.16 - In 14W at 2A, African Literatures: Masterpieces of Literature from Africa (formerly 67.16)
(Identical to AAAS 51 and COLT 51)
This course is designed to provide students with a specific and global view of the diversity of literatures from the African continent. We will read texts written in English or translated from French, Portuguese, Arabic and African languages. Through novels, short stories, poetry, and drama, we will explore such topics as the colonial encounter, the conflict between tradition and modernity, the negotiation of African identities, post-independence disillusion, gender issues, apartheid and post-apartheid. In discussing this variety of literatures from a comparative context, we will assess the similarities and the differences apparent in the cultures and historical contexts from which they emerge. Readings include Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Naguib Mahfouz's Midaq Alley, Calixthe Beyala's The Sun Hath Looked Upon Me, Camara Laye's The African Child, and Luandino Vieira's Luanda.
Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: NW. Course Group III. CA tags Cultural Studies and Popular Culture, National Traditions and Countertraditions, Multicultural and Colonial/Postcolonial Studies.
53.17 - In 14W at 11, The Graphic Novel (formerly 67.17)
What happens when normally separate symbol systems like pictures and words converge? This course investigates that question by examining graphic novels and the theoretical insights they have elicited. Discussions will explore issues of autobiography, counterculture, parody, and fantasy. Typical authors include Art Spiegelman, Alan Moore, Chris Ware, Marjane Satrapi, Daniel Clowes, Alison Bechdel and several others. In addition to a presentation, students will write two formal essays and several short responses.
Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III. CA tags Cultural Studies and Popular Culture, Genre-narrative, Creative Writing.
53.21 - In 14W at 11, Black Theater USA (formerly 67.21)
(Identical to AAAS 31 and THEA 22)
This course will examine African American playwrights, drama, and theater from 1959 to the present. Further exploration will focus on the impact of civil rights, the Black Arts movement, and cultural aesthetics on the form, style, and content of African American plays. Readings will include plays of Hansberry, Baldwin, Baraka, Kennedy, Childress, Shange, Wolfe, Wilson, Parks and others. Open to all classes.
Dist: ART; WCult: CI. Course Group III. CA tags Genre-drama.
53.01 - In 14S at 10A, The Black Arts Movement (formerly 67.10)
(Identical to AAAS 81)
This course explores the literature, art, and criticism of the Black Arts Movement. The artistic corollary to the Black Power movement, the Black Arts Movement flourished in the 1960s and 1970s as artists/activists sought to put a revolutionary cultural politics into practice around the country. The Black Arts Movement had far-reaching implications for the way artists and writers think about race, history, authorship, and the relationship between artistic production and political liberation. We'll explore these issues in work by Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Larry Neal, and others who forged the traditionally-defined Black Arts Movement in Harlem. We'll also trace the movement's flowering around country, where local political struggles and artistic traditions in Chicago, Newark, Los Angeles, and Detroit shaped distinctive regional variations of the Black Arts Movement. We'll consider how the literature of the Black Arts Movement intersected with other cultural currents of the time, its critics, and the persistence of its themes in contemporary culture.
Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III. CA tags Popular Cultural and Cultural Studies, National Traditions and Countertraditions.
53.22 - In 14S at 10A, Science Fiction Studies (formerly 67)
This class will examine the development of science fiction as literature, considering the distinctive characteristics of the genre. We will read critical perspectives on scifi that connect it to both modern and postmodern themes; we will think through the politics of scifi, focusing especially on its utopian and dystopian elements; we will articulate the many subgenres of scifi; we will investigate the unusually strong influence of the community of readers on the published texts in scifi. But primarily we will read representative examples, novels, stories, and even some films, from well-known classics to little-known and marginal texts. Authors may include John Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Ursula Le Guin, Arthur Clark, Philip Dick, Octavia Butler, William Gibson, James Tiptree, Jr., Stanislaw Lem, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Samuel Delaney, Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson, Greg Egan, Ted Chiang, and still others. The class will have an opportunity to shape the syllabus somewhat according to the preferences of enrolled students.
Dist: LIT, pending faculty approval. Course Group III. CA tags Cultural Studies and Popular Culture, Literary Theory and Criticism.
53.23 - In 14S at 2A, Caribbean Lyric and Literature (formerly 67.1)
(Identical to AAAS 83.6 and LACS 66)
This course will examine the work of a variety of Caribbean writers from former British colonies. We will look at several issues that reappear throughout the work of these authors. These concerns include (but are not limited to) notions of exile, the importance of language and music, the articulation of identity in varying post-colonial states, and representations of gender, race and ethnicity. The class will also analyze the socio-political events in particular nations and the ways in which these events influence writing in the archipelago. Furthermore, the course will explore shared cultural practices. For example, we will examine the ways in which a strong tradition of music as protest influences the production of particular poetic forms in Trinidad and Jamaica. The class will move from early twentieth century writers like Claude McKay to the important contributions of later writers such as Kamau Brathwaite, Jamaica Kincaid, George Lamming, V.S. Naipaul, Sam Selvon, Olive Senior and Derek Walcott. We will examine the more recent innovations in form, as musical elements are introduced by writers such as Mikey Smith and Kwame Dawes. Each week's readings will be supplemented with seminal critical writings including excerpts from the text The Empire Writes Back.
Dist: LIT: WCutl: CI. Course Group III. CA tags Multicultural and Colonial/Postcolonial Studies, Cultural Studies and Popular Culture.
53.24 - In 14S at 2A, Jewish American Literature: From its Inception to the Present (formerly 67.6)
(Identical to JWST 21)
The history of Jewish American literature is a history of many literatures. It reflects the broad variety of historical, political, social and cultural experiences that Jews from very different places and backgrounds brought to the United States. The course introduces students to the central topics, motives and literary strategies from the beginnings of a tangible Jewish American literature in the late nineteenth century to the present. The course is divided into four parts: 1. The Great Tide (1880-1920) discerns the literary repercussions of Jewish immigration such as language (Yiddish, Hebrew, English), religion (Judaism, secularism), and politics (Zionism, democracy) in the writings of authors such as Antin, Cahan, Kallen, Lazarus, Leeser, Mayer Wise, and Yezierska. 2. From Margin to Mainstream (1920-1945), covers the cataclysmic interwar years, which evoked an intensive production of the literary and literal children of immigrants coming of age and becoming an aesthetic and political force in debates about American modernism, among them Gertrude Stein and Henry Roth. 3. In the Years of Achievement and Ambivalence (1945-1970), the defining line of Jewish American writing altered dramatically. Jewish American literature's "ethnic stamp" marks and complicates the characters and perspectives created by Bellow, Ginsberg, Mailer, Malamud, Olsen, Paley, Singer and others with respect to debates about the Holocaust, the counterculture, or the civil rights, women's, and student movement. 4. Wandering and Return (1970 to the Present) will focus on the broad variety of modern and postmodern Jewish American writing. Questions of contemporary ethnic identity in a multicultural society as well as attempts to reconfigure historical perspectives on the Holocaust, the Rosenberg Case, or McCarthyism inform the writings of Doctorow, Lelchuk, Ozick, Philip Roth and others.
Dist: LIT. WCult: CI. Course Group III. CA tags National Traditions and Countertraditions, Multicultural and Colonial/Postcolonial Studies.