ENGL 423 Spring 2014 History in Theory

Moments of political turmoil expose the contested and highly charged ways in which a culture structures itself around an imagined past, a process that some of the most interesting theorists of the past two hundred years have helped to illuminate. In this course, we will read their work along with literary and cinematic texts that invoke such moments of upheaval--the French and Russian Revolutions as well as those of 1848, the rise of fascism and the Great Depression of the 1930s, the battle for Algerian independence, the AIDS crisis--in order to lay bare the problems and contradictions that emerge in those fraught narratives of the past. We will consider such issues as the aesthetics of fascism and of democracy under pressure, fantasies of decolonization, and the uses of melancholy in representing historical loss. Readings will be drawn from literary works by Austen, Eliot, Kafka, Mann, Borges, Stoppard, and Kushner, and theoretical essays by Kant, Burke, Carlyle, Marx, Weber, Benjamin, Adorno, Foucault, de Certeau, and Lefort. Films will include such works as Eisenstein's October, Reifenstahl's The Triumph of the Will, Wellman's Nothing Sacred and Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers. This course is conceived for students who have already taken a criticism course, but those students who have yet to do so are welcome
Class Format: seminar, with a week or so of tutorials and a chance for independent work
Requirements/Evaluation: one 5-page paper and a final fifteen-page paper, with a process of revisions
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Prerequisites: a 300-level ENGL course or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preference: English majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division I
Other Attributes: ENGL Criticism Courses,ENGL Literary Histories B
Enrollment Limit: 15
Expected Enrollment: 15
Class Number: 3795
ENGL423-01(S) SEM History in Theory Division 1: Languages and the Arts Anita R. Sokolsky
W 1:10 PM-3:50 PM Hollander 240 3795
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