Syllabi


This course will introduce students to literature from colonized nations around the world. We will read twentieth century and contemporary authors from South Asia, southern Africa, West Africa, Ireland, and the Caribbean. The course will be organized around four comparative units: The Postcolonial Nation; Global Environments; Colonialism and Language; and Race, Diaspora, and the Transnational. Each unit will put texts from different regions in dialogue. Our overarching concerns will include race, gender and sexuality, social class, citizenship, and globalization. ...

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Introduction to Global Literatures


This course introduces you to the study of literature. We will focus on two related skills: how to produce close readings of texts and how to develop those readings into thesis-driven papers. The course will provide you with a toolbox of techniques and approaches to literature – a set of tools applicable not only to the course but to the critical analysis of texts that you encounter in other classes and beyond. These skills will help you build critical thinking and writing abilities relevant in many contexts. Students should come ready to read and re-read, write and re-write, think and re-think intensively.

We will build writing, thinking, and discussion skills by engaging with literary texts from several major genres: fiction (both short story and novel), poetry, and drama. These texts come from a wide range of geographies and perspectives. Emphasis will be placed on authors from the global South, authors of color, feminists, and queer authors. Our course has four units. The first three units each introduce a genre: fiction, poetry, drama. The fourth unit draws on all three genres to approach a shared theme: writing the environment. Meanwhile, thematic concerns such as gender, sexuality, race, and colonialism will stretch across all of our units and many of the literary texts that we study. ...

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Literary Interpretation


Environment, Globalization and the Contemporary Novel

How do environmental concerns and globalization intersect, and how do contemporary novelists address this relationship? Ecosystems and corporations cross national borders, igniting controversies about industrial agriculture, toxicity, biodiversity, and the use of natural resources. Global power dynamics render certain populations disproportionately vulnerable to environmental risks. What role can fiction play in reconceptualizing environmentalism based on its relations with race, class, gender, and citizenship? How can we use literary research to contribute to broader discussions of the environment? ...

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A study of postcolonial fiction, poetry, drama and autobiography in English. We will discuss authors from South Asia, South Africa, West Africa, the Caribbean, and Ireland. Our course will be organized by four units:  Postcoloniality, the Self, and the Nation; Colonialism and Language; Race, Diaspora, and Return; and Postcolonial Environments.

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Intro to Postcolonial Lit


Culture and Representation

This class will explore the notion of “representation” in contemporary cultural studies. We will explore how different theoretical concepts of “representation” apply to popular culture, the politics of museum exhibits, race and “otherness,” and gender studies. Our course will be structured around three overlapping and intersecting units: Gender, Sexuality, and Representation in American Pop Culture; Race and Representation in America; and Representation, Colonialism, and Curation.

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Petro-Literature

How is our world shaped by oil and gas? We use these fossil fuels every day, but what are the world-making effects of their extraction from the earth? What would it look like to analyze contemporary society on those terms? This course spotlights fossil fuels as keys to understanding and historicizing today’s global order. We will learn about the environmental impacts of oil drilling and fracking, but we will also emphasize social impacts, focusing on how authors and filmmakers represent these processes. How are communities affected by fuel extraction on nearby lands? Which communities are likeliest to be affected? What does this tell us about globalization, power, and our place in the world? About the past, the present, and the future? ...

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Globalization and the Literature of Food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disaster:

CRisis and Environmental Justice in literature and culture

Industrial agriculture has drawn loud critiques in recent years. Factory farming and GMOs have provoked outrage on ethical, ecological, social, and health grounds. Meanwhile alternative eating styles have gained popular traction. Witness the growth of Community Supported Agriculture and other local food projects; the popularity of food writers as different as Michael Pollan and Vandana Shiva; and the global reach of movements such as food sovereignty and Slow Food. Many critics of the globalized food system have championed the return to the local, the rural, and the traditional. But movements such as local food also rely on information-age global networking to build “translocal” alliances between farmers, activists, and consumers all over the world. This class analyzes the politics of food in the era of neoliberal globalization, through the canon of food literature. ... 

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Environmental problems weigh on the public imagination as more and more natural disasters devastate cities and countries worldwide. How are environmental crises represented in arts and culture? We think of disasters as quick – and earthquakes and hurricanes are. But how can we react to disasters that are slow, such as global warming? How do we understand and address the human factors involved in “natural” disasters, particularly in an era of human-induced climate change? What roles do race, class, gender, and citizenship play in experiences and representations of crisis? How do disasters look from an environmental justice perspective? ...

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Cultures of Colonialism

This class introduces students to works by Anglophone writers from around the world. We will read authors from the former British Empire, including Africa, the Caribbean, India, and Ireland. How do colonial texts in English represent empire? What are postcolonial texts, and how do they respond to the Anglophone canon? When and why do postcolonial authors refuse to “write back” to the canon? We will explore these and other questions, reading works of colonial and postcolonial literature in dialogue.

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