ENGL 415
Theorizing Aesthetic Outrage Spring 2019
Division I
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Outrage has become an increasingly charged and prominent feature of public life in our current political climate. Yet it is surprisingly difficult to analyze and understand, particularly when we confront public forms of outrage, in which collective behavior may shape, complicate, and change its nature. Why are accounts of the reasons for one’s outrage so often inadequate to its vehemence? How are we to understand the strange, unconscious mimicry into which the antagonists in public outrage are so often drawn? What are the sources of the pleasure that shadows outrage? In this seminar we will attempt to theorize public outrage, drawing on a range of theoretical models from several disciplines: aesthetics, cultural and political theory, psychoanalysis, gender and sexuality studies, anthropology and sociology. We will be particularly concerned with aesthetic outrage–riots, censorship, and trials in response to literary and cinematic works, particularly where such outrage has been well documented–and will explore the possibility that such outrage is discernibly different from more straightforward instances of political outrage, such as bread riots or Black Lives Matter activism. We will also analyze the basic nature of outrage in the context of affect studies. Theoretical work by such writers as Sedgwick, Berlant, Foucault, Freud, Weber, Lévi-Strauss, Girard, Arendt, Bakhtin, Butler, Douglas, and Zizek; literary and cinematic works by such authors as Sade, Synge, O’Casey, Jarry, and Eisenstein.
The Class: Format: seminar; tutorial format once or twice during the semester to discuss writing
Limit: 15
Expected: 12
Class#: 3881
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active, regular class participation, a final paper of about 20 pages, written in stages (some discussed in tutorial format)
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Prerequisites: a 300-level ENGL course or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: English majors
Distributions: Division I
Attributes: ENGL Criticism Courses

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