COMP 307
Aesthetic Outrage Spring 2022
Division I Writing Skills
Cross-listed COMP 307 / ENGL 332

Class Details

In this tutorial course we will explore interdisciplinary ways of theorizing the outraged reception of provocative works of film, theater, and fiction. When riots, censorship, and vilification greet such works in moments of political and social upheaval, the public outrage is often strangely out of proportion to either the work’s aesthetic nature or its overt commentary on the political crisis. Something powerfully symptomatic is at work, then: a set of threatened investments, unacknowledged values, and repressed ideas which surface explosively, but indirectly, in the aesthetic outrage. In an attempt to understand the strange logic of public outrage against works of art, we will explore the respective works’ historical contexts, and use theoretical models–aesthetic, political, psychological, social–as a means of illuminating the dynamics of outrage and exposing understated linkages between a work’s figurative logic and the political passions of its historical moment. We will study instances of outrage in the context of French Revolution (Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro), the wave of anarchist terrorism in turn-of-the-century Paris (Jarry’s Ubu the King), the sodomy trials of Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest), the Irish Revolution (Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World and O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars), and Stalinist collectivization (Eisenstein’s suppressed film Bezhin Meadow). After two weeks in which we will meet as a group, students will meet with the instructor in pairs for one hour each week during the rest of the semester. They will write a 5- to 6-page paper every other week (five in all), and a short written analyses of their partners’ papers in alternate weeks. Emphasis will be placed on developing skills not only in reading and interpretation (of historical events and of theoretical texts as well as of literature and film), but also in constructing critical arguments and responding to them in written and oral critiques.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3864
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation in tutorial discussions, five 5- to 6-page papers, five 1- to 2-page critiques
Prerequisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
Enrollment Preferences: English majors, Comparative Literature majors, highly qualified sophomores
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
COMP 307 Division I ENGL 332 Division I
Attributes: ENGL Criticism Courses
ENGL Literary Histories C

Class Grid

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