Division I; Writing-Intensive; Difference, Power, and Equity;
Although we all entertain the dream of reaching directly across boundaries of personal and cultural difference, such exchanges remain inseparable from fantasies of otherness. Those fantasies can be as reductive as a stereotype, but they can also be enormously nuanced and self-revealing–as rich as literature itself. We will study the missed encounter–the encounter in which the element of presupposition and fantasy is vividly apparent–in cultural contexts from the first English accounts of the inhabitants of Virginia to race relations in contemporary African fiction; we will consider such encounters in other contexts as well, including sexual relations, the relations between young and old, even the relation between past and present. But in every case, we will keep our gaze trained on what such events tell us about the nature of fantasy and the place of fiction. The course will consider novels, drama, film, opera, and non-fiction, works such as: Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians; Harriot, “Report of the New Found Land of Virginia”; Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Stephen Crane, “The Blue Hotel”; Nadine Gordimer, The Pick Up; Herzog, “Aguirre”; Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice; Puccini, Madame Butterfly; Huang, M. Butterfly; Austen, Pride and Prejudice; Gyasi, Homegoing; and theoretical writing, including texts by the psychoanalytic critic, Jacques Lacan.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: 20 pages of writing in the form of frequent short papers
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Enrollment Preference: first- and second-year students who have not taken or placed out of an English 100-level class
Distributions: Division I; Writing-Intensive; Difference, Power, and Equity;
Distribution Notes: DPE: The course fulfills the spirit of the DPE requirement by engaging diverse cultural contexts in order to explore the ways in which political, racial, and sexual identities are staked on forcible assertions of difference which at once constitute power and erode it from within. Through discussion and critical writing, students will develop analytical tools and skills to interrogate these effects of social power. WI: Like all English 100-level courses, there is an intensive focus on writing skills through frequent short papers (20 pages total).