This course investigates the power and the limitations of depictions of nonhuman animals in literature, addressing timeless questions about nonhuman perspective, humanity, and art: What does it mean to be human? What do humans gain from attempting to understand nonhuman perception, however difficult that may be? How might we best represent human and nonhuman experience? We’ll read literature from different historical periods and cultures, and we’ll consider the ways that writers engage multiple disciplines—the physical sciences, psychology, sociology, ethics, and philosophy—to describe animals. Because we all encounter animals in daily life, directly or indirectly, we will also consider the roles animals play in our own lives and in popular culture.
taught by Jill Gatlin
Toni Morrison’s Beloved is one of the rare modern classics in American Literature: highly praised, widely read and debated, the novel draws together the most traditional literary heritage of the past and our own modernist sensibilities. To better understand this complex and rewarding novel, we will analyze Beloved within the context of both 19th century American slave narratives (including the classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin), and 20th century literary innovations in fiction. To do so, we will explore the many dimensions of Morrison’s modern novel, focusing not only on its vision of American slavery, but on its alignment of race, repression and the psychology of women, on its sense of emotional guilt and horror, and on its many meanings for today’s readers
taught by James Klein
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is not only one of the great works of American Literature, but one of the most powerful considerations of race, identity and culture in our modern age. In Essentials in African- American Literature, students will read, discuss, and analyze this crucial novel from three perspectives: as a commentary on race and race relations in America from the Civil War to the 1940s; as an acute psychological study of the dual consciousness shaped by that history; and as a literary masterwork, part of a novelistic tradition reaching back to Dostoyevsky and beyond.
taught by James Klein
This course will examine various styles, methods of writing, and groups of poets that have made contemporary poetry ‘contemporary,’ including the ways in which contemporary poetry records the workings of the mind and the ways it breaks down the hierarchies of language. As poet Robert Duncan says, “A poem is an event; it is not a record of the event.” Reading and listening to the work of some of the most innovative poets of our time, we will think about their choices in syntax, placement of words, speaker, imagery and figurative language, levels of diction, point of view, and word choice, and listen for tone, sounds, line breaks, and rhythmic effects. We will consider ecopoetry, queer theory poetry, innovative women’s poetry, conceptual poetry, and other poetries.
taught by Ruth Lepson