Literature Graduate Course Descriptions FA20

LTCO 201 - Theories and Methods of Literary Analysis

Chinese Literature and World L

Yingjin Zhang

While world literature as a discipline of literary studies has seen a resurgence in the new century, questions have remained as to what exactly counts as world literature, who decides on the system of recognition, and where the institution of world literature is situated in relation to national, regional, and diaspora literature on the one hand and to comparative literature and critical theory on the other. We will start with recent advocates of world literature (e.g., Casanova, Damrosch, Moretti) and examines the contributions and limitations of their models. We will then consider their critics (e.g., Apter, Arac, Cheah, and Prendergast) and tests the grounds on which they discredit world literature as a valid intellectual pursuit. To take a parallel view, we will briefly track the rise of world cinema in recent decades and investigate different disciplinary approaches to translation, circulation, reception, and globalization. The second half of the seminar is concentrated on Chinese literature as world literature and investigates positions taken up by scholars of Chinese literature both inside and outside China: What type of Chinese literature is consistently left out of world literature and why? Who are in and who are out? Is there an intermediary level of world literature where Chinese literature circulates across regions? What precisely do we gain if we adopt “worlding” and “world-making” in analyzing Chinese literature circulating outside of China? How do we position Chinese literature as world literature vis-à-vis global Chinese literature and Sinophone literature? How do new media technologies impact the making of Chinese literature as world literature?

This seminar is offered via remote teaching, and office hours are held on Zoom. 

LTCO 284 - Performativity

Babak Rahimi

This interdisciplinary course looks at performativity as a social process of cultural significance. It examines the works of John Searle, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, and Jose Esteban Munoz and underlines the role of performative action in linguistic, literary, cinematic, theatrical, political, and other forms of human interactivity. Restricted to major code LT77 or consent of instructor and department.

LTCS 250 - Topics in Cultural Studies

Concrete Utopia

Ameeth Vijay

In this course, we will will read theories of political futures.  Taking Ernst Bloch’s concept of ‘concrete utopia’ as a starting point, we will think about how alternative presents and futures can be imagined, represented, and theorized.  Further, as the title suggests, we will investigate if and how these futures can be made to be material, and, conversely, think about the affective, phenomenological, and deconstructive qualities of materiality itself. 

LTCS 256 - Cultural Studies of Technoscience

Mind without Body: Race, Gend

Fatima El-Tayeb

This course explores the idea of artificial life in both art and science, its relation to the quest to identify what makes us human and the role the body, gender and race have played in both. We will look at dominant (scientific, political, economic) models, their critiques - in particular those from marginalized perspectives - and at alternative forms of engaging with new technologies.

LTEN 246 - Victorian Literature

The Life of the Mind in Middle

Margaret Loose

In this unusual course, we will spend an entire quarter really dwelling with what many regard as the greatest novel in the English language, one which seems especially apt for academics like us who devote our lives to mucking around in the past and its texts.  Writing under the pseudonym “George Eliot,” British writer Marian Evans published Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life in 8 installments during 1871-2, and one of its most memorable characters is a pedantic academic with a severe case of impostor syndrome.  Of him the narrator says “It is an uneasy lot at best, to be what we call highly taught and yet not to enjoy: to be present at this great spectacle of life and never to be liberated from a small hungry shivering self—never to be fully possessed by the glory we behold, never to have our consciousness rapturously transformed into the vividness of a thought, the ardour of a passion, the energy of an action, but always to be scholarly and uninspired, ambitious and timid, scrupulous and dim-sighted.”  How do we, the “highly taught . . . scholarly and . . . scrupulous” grapple with this novel and what it has to say about the life of the mind and the degree to which intellectual ambition might be fostered, frustrated, or frittered away in direct relation to the small matters of our lives, to accidents, gender, financial pressures, or our immediate time and place?  We will carefully read the novel, then a selection of modern scholarship about it, and end with the New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead’s book about this novel and how it has woven itself into her identity, career, and relationships. Along the way, we will learn how to interpret such formal details as syntax, the slippage between organic and architectural symbols in building mental maps, how a novel stages competing approaches to historiography, and how it might push the limits of realism through its representation of complex and diversified modes of embodied attention.  We will read with the critical distance of scholars and with the intimacy of fans, be awed and be irritated, but above all we will read like it matters beyond the classroom, because it does.

LTTH 210A - Proseminar on Literary Scholarship

Daisuke Miyao

This proseminar has three goals: 

            1. Introduce Literature faculty to new students. 

            2. Introduce students to key texts that have influenced Literature faculty in diverse areas of literary study. 

            3. Demonstrate the kind of writing that current scholars are engaging in, with the goal of having students model essays on examples by current faculty. 

Each week, an individual faculty is invited to present her/his work. Invited faculty distributes one key theoretical/methodological reading that has been integral to her/his research and, either a second key text or a text that s/he has written.