Literary Genre: LG
Literature (Theory): LT
Literature (Before 20th-C): LC
General Literature: any course listed on this page
*Asterisked courses* include a creative writing component, and may be of interest to students; they do not indicate an additional requirement.
All courses listed here are approved to count towards the Creative Writing major as general literature courses. Course codes indicate approval specific distribution requirements. Students may register for eligible courses under any course number.
These courses are offered by departments, not the Program in Creative Writing. If you have questions about course content, structure, and schedule, please contact the department offering the course. The course descriptions below are to the best of our knowledge the most recent available.
Courses taken prior to 2019-20 or otherwise not on this list must be approved by the DUS. Contact Edgar Garcia (firstname.lastname@example.org) about approval.
ENGL | English Language and Literature
CMST | Cinema and Media Studies
CLAS | Classics
CMLT | Comparative Literature
BIBL | Religious Studies
EALC | East Asian Languages and Civilizations
GRMN | Germanic Studies
HIST | History
MAPH | Master of Arts Program in the Humanities
NELC | Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
PHIL | Philosophy
RLLT | Romance Languages and Literatures
REES | Russian and East European Studies
SALC | South Asian Languages and Civilizations
TAPS | Theatre and Performance Studies
Any class offered by the Department of English Language and Literature can satisfy the general literature requirement for Creative Writing. Please see below for a selection of English classes that satisfy specific requirements in genre (LG), theory (LT), and period (LC). Browse the full English catalog at https://english.uchicago.edu/courses.
ENGL 10404 Genre Fundamentals: Poetry (Mark Miller) “Poetry makes nothing happen,” W.H. Auden famously wrote. We’ll debate this idea as we explore a wide range of poetry and poetics, investigating how literature develops in concert with social, historical, and technological changes. We’ll begin by examining forms such as the sonnet, sestina, and villanelle, as well as free verse; poetic and rhetorical tools such as repetition, figurative language, rhyme, meter, and enjambment; and concepts of lyric subjectivity and intertextuality. In the second section, we’ll continue to develop strategies for analyzing poetic form while we investigate the links between poetry and history (particularly regarding war, genocide, trauma). The third unit emphasizes poetries of protest and self-determination in the U.S., with a focus on Black, Latinx, Asian American, and Native American poetries. Close reading, close listening, and close watching will all be important as we read poems, listen to poets recite their work, and watch poets perform. By the end of the quarter, students will have the vocabulary to analyze poetic technique and will have developed close reading, literary analysis, and argumentation skills. (LG-P)
ENGL 15320 Witnessing Medieval Evil: Literature, Art, and the Politics of Observation (Ben Saltzman)Seeing hell for oneself, watching the torture of a saint, looking at illustrations of violence: these profoundly terrible experiences, narrated and drawn, shaped the way medieval readers took in the world around them, its violence, its suffering, its preponderance of evils. But how exactly does literature allow readers to witness and process such horrors? How is the observation of violence transformed by art? What is unique about the medieval experience of these artistic and literary forms of mediation? What can they teach us about our own contemporary cultural encounters with the sights and stories of atrocity? By exploring questions like these, this course will consider the didactic, religious, and epistemological functions of witnessing in a variety of early medieval texts such as illustrated copies of Prudentius’s Psychomachia (in which the Virtues engage in a gruesome battle against the Vices), the Apocalypse of Paul (in which Paul sees hell and lives to tell about it), early medieval law codes, the Life of St. Margaret, the Old English Genesis, and the heroic poem Judith. These medieval texts will be read alongside thinkers like Giorgio Agamben, W.J.T. Mitchell, and Susan Sontag, whose work on images of atrocity in the modern world will both inform our critical examination of the Middle Ages while opening up the possibility for rethinking literature and art in relation to contemporary experiences of violence. (LC, LT)
ENGL 15520 Illness and Life Writing (Debbie Nelson) With a few notable exceptions, illness was largely absent from life writing prior to the late twentieth century. We will pick up our story here (with backward glances at some of the more influential works) to see why it emerged during this period, how the topic of illness changed life writing, and how narrativizing illness changed conceptions of the body, patient advocacy and medical practice, and the social conceptions and figuration of disease. Because illness narratives stand at the intersection of medical humanities, narrative medicine, disability studies, and life writing, we will examine all these frames in conjunction with selected works in prose narrative and graphic narrative as well as in poetry, film, and the essay.
ENGL 15540 Comics at the Crossroads (Zoë Smith) Mid-1985 to mid-1986 is the most important year in comics history. This course is an introduction to comics through the prism of this period with snapshots of comics “before” and comics “after”; major texts are Maus, Watchmen, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and The Dark Knight Returns, all of which were released (or released in accessible formats) in ’85-‘86. We will try to identify the various forces that made this remarkable year possible: changes in the comics business, in American politics and culture, and in the life cycle of the superhero. In the mid-80s the “high” and “low” of comics blended like it never had before. This course is designed for the newbie and afficionado alike, whether you’re meeting these four of the greatest comics of all time, or rediscovering them within a new milieu.
ENGL 16730 The Politics of Eating: Food, Storytelling, and Power in America (Michael Dinh) In the US, what does it mean to love all kinds of food but not the people who come with it? Reading the work of ethnic American writers, our course will consider how food has been used to celebrate a multicultural America while disavowing violent histories and maintaining oppressive structures of power. We will explore a range of literary genres, including fiction, memoir, poetry, and cookbooks, to think about food and its relationship to intersections of power, such as race, gender, sexuality, migration, and citizenship. Demonstrating the importance of art and literature in forming community in an uncertain world, the course will return to the following guiding questions: how is consumption inherently political? How is food a significant site of organizing and community building? And what is the role of storytelling in all of this? (LG-F, LT)
ENGL 19920 "I, too, am America": Ethnic Minority Poetry in the US (Gerónimo Sarmiento Cruz) This course is designed as a survey of the various minority traditions excluded from canonical understandings of the history of US poetry. Centered around the twentieth century yet bookended by earlier and later poetry, the course is divided into foure sections: African American, Native American, Latinx, and Asian American. Among many others, we’ll read poems by Myung Mi Kim, Amiri Baraka, Simon J. Ortiz, and Claudia Rankine. (LG-P, LT)
ENGL 18920 Camp: Notes on a Queer Sensibility (Jacob Harris) By the time Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp” (1964) had defined its object in the (now notorious) terms of a “failed attempt at seriousness,” the word camp – as a noun, an adjective, and a verb—had enjoyed more than half a century of connotative associations with homosexuality and gender-non-conformity. The history of queer representation in the Anglophone world is intimately tied to the history of camp, as both a dominant style for the representation and encoding of non-normative gender and sexual positions, and a prevailing sensibility through which queer subjects might relate to the world. This course studies the development of camp aesthetics in key texts works of Anglophone literature, cinema, and mass culture, from Oscar Wilde through RuPaul’s Drag Race. Readings from gay/lesbian, queer, and literary theory will frame our discussion of a range of themes animated by camp aesthetics, including: relationships between gender, sexuality, subjectivity and style; issues of taste; the aesthetics and politics of the outrageous; and the relationship between social abjection and bathos. Possible texts by authors such as Oscar Wilde, Ronald Firbank, Edith Sitwell, Baroness Elsa Von Freytag- Loringhoven, Joe Orton, Djuna Barnes, and Gore Vidal ; cinematic texts might include films by John Waters, Andy Warhol, Annie Livingston (Paris is Burning); and a range of mass-cultural objects, including anything from Cher and the 2019 Met Gala to RPDR and Lady Gaga. (LT)
ENGL 16600 Shakespeare II: Tragedies and Romances (Ellen Mackay) This course explores mainly major plays representing the genres of tragedy and romance; most (but not all) date from the latter half of Shakespeare's career. After having examined how Shakespeare develops and deepens the conventions of tragedy in Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, and Antony and Cleopatra, we will turn our attention to how he complicates and even subverts these conventions in The Winter's Tale and The Tempest. Throughout, we will treat the plays as literary texts, performance prompts, and historical documents. Section attendance is required. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, The Renaissance. (LC)
ENGL 19450 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in Context (Jo Nixon) Among the many adaptations of Arthurian romance, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (SGGK) stands out as particularly provocative, captivating audiences with violent games, unruly erotics, and spectacular ecologies. But how do the poem's literary, material, and historical contexts inform its interpretation and reception? We'll read a modern translation of SGGK, as well as passages from the original, to probe the particularities of its language. Then, we'll move to the poem's material surroundings by turning to another poem that survives with it in manuscript. Patience, a retelling of the Book of Jonah, will allow us to contrast Gawain with a different questing figure and ask how medieval readers might have interpreted an Arthurian romance alongside biblical paraphrase. Afterwards, we'll study what is known as the alliterative revival: the composition in the fourteenth century of poetry in alliterative verse (like SGGK). We'll read SGGK with the alliterative Morte Arthure, another Arthurian romance, to ask what poets found particularly compelling and innovative about this poetic form. Finally, we will theorize the work's contemporary afterlives through A24's recent film The Green Knight (2021). (LC)
ENGL 20430 Wordsworth’s Prelude (Timothy Campbell) In this course we will closely study William Wordsworth’s major work The Prelude, or Growth of a Poet’s Mind, a long, Romantic-era poem that has proved both a paradigmatic model and a point of departure for a wide range of literary writing ever since. Revised throughout Wordsworth’s adult life (ultimately into the fourteen-book form of the poem published upon Wordsworth’s death in 1850), The Prelude helped set the terms that still govern our thinking about modern lyric writing and poetic language, the significance of autobiography and memory, the relationship between humanity and nature, the special spiritual and imaginative place of childhood, and the cycles of political revolution, regret, and healing that have seemed an enduring legacy of the French Revolution. The course will be structured as an extended, book-by-book close reading of the poem alongside illuminating contextual writings from Wordsworth’s interlocutors--both knowing and unknowing, past and present, local and global--that can provide a sense of the poem’s power and continuing relevance but also its problems and limitations. (LC)
ENGL 20523/SOCI 20523/CMST 27808/MAAD 10523 Digital Media & Social Life: Contemporary Methods (Patrick Jagoda, K. Schilt) Digital and networked media include forms and social phenomena such as memes, social media, live-streaming platforms, video games, virtual worlds, electronic literature, and online communities. What methods taken from the humanities and social sciences enable the study of these digital media forms and cultures? In order to model a series of methods, this course runs one shared media object (this term, the video game Stardew Valley) through a series of research methods, one per week, taken from the humanities (e.g., close reading, critical theory, response theory, and critical making) and social sciences (e.g., interviews, digital ethnography, discourse analysis, and quantitative analysis) methods. At the end of the course, students will compose a research paper or create a digital project that uses one or more of these methods to analyze a digital or networked media case of their choosing. (LT)
ENGL 21320 Archival Methods: Slavery and Gender in the Americas (SJ Zhang) This class offers an in-depth introduction to archival research methodologies with a focus on gender and slavery in the Americas. Students will apply their knowledge by working in historical and contemporary archives via two trips to special collections: one to view archival texts from the period and another to find an archival object of the student’s choosing that will provide the topic of their final research paper. (LT)
ENGL 21926 People, Places, Things: Introduction to the Victorian Novel (Elaine Hadley) Introduction to the Victorian novel: with emphasis on interpretive methods. Quarter Systems and the Victorian novel do not mix well, which is only to say that this course cannot aspire to a comprehensive accounting of the Victorian novel, or the myriad forms of the novel that emerged during Victoria’s reign (1837-1901). What it does seek to do, however, is give you some little sense of the Victorian novel’s formal and thematic range in a few of the uncharacteristically shorter novels of the period, and—in the bargain—give you a few critical tools and concepts to better figure out what these novels are and what they might be doing. Critical approaches to the Victorian novel are as varied as the novels themselves, perhaps, but I’ve tried to give you access to some of the more recent interventions that centrally query character and characterization (people), things and the circulation of things, and location and spatialization (places). Jane Eyre, Hard Times, Lady Audley’s Secret, The Warden, Jude the Obscure, The Hound of the Baskervilles. (LG-F)
ENGL 24250 Race, Performance, Performativity (Tina Post) What does it mean to feel raced, and how does performance work with or against such feelings? Why and how does a performance of racial identity come to be perceived as “authentic?” What is at stake in performances that that cross real or imagined racial lines? This upper-level class delves into the topic of performativity as it intersects with race in the American context. Some historical background is studied, but we will mostly explore performativity’s intersection with race in contemporary America. Course assignments are a mix of the theoretical, dramatic, and performative. (In other words, some of our readings theorize performativity while others put theory into play.) (LT)
ENGL 24412 Theater about Theater (John Muse) This course is a transhistorical study of changing ideas about representation, explored through the lens of early modern and twentieth-century plays that foreground theatrical form. Every play frames time and space and in the process singles out a portion of life for consideration. The plays we’ll consider this term call conspicuous attention to the frame itself, to the materials and capacities of theater. What happens when plays comment on their own activity? Why might they do so? Why has theatrical self-consciousness emerged more strongly in particular historical periods? What might such plays teach us about the nature of art, and about the nature of life? To what extent can we distinguish between art and life? We’ll explore these and other questions through plays by Marlowe, Kyd, Shakespeare, Pirandello, Beckett, Genet, Stoppard, Nwandu, and Young Jean Lee; and through theoretical work by Puchner, Hornby, Sofer, Fuchs, and others.
ENGL 27701/47701 Lyric Intimacy in the Renaissance (Sarah Kunjummen) Lyric has often been perceived as a peculiarly intimate genre, tasked with providing access to a person’s inner experience. This course will examine how sixteenth and seventeenth-century British writers used lyric verse as a tool for establishing, imagining or faking intimacy, with potential lovers, employers, friends, and God. We will ask how the multiple models of intimacy available within English literary culture intersected in texts of the period, and also how that literature responds to or compares with developments elsewhere in the Renaissance Atlantic and Mediterranean world. Along the way, we will explore some of the following questions: what was the gender politics of Renaissance lyric? How did writers make space for queer or heteronormative writing and attachment within the conventions of the love poem? What looks familiar about the forms of intimacy we find in these texts? What remains profoundly strange about them? Readings will include poems by Philip Sidney, Mary Wroth, William Shakespeare, John Donne, Katherine Philips and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. (LC)
ENGL 27703/ ENGL 47703/AMER 27703/GNSE 47702/AMER 47703/ GNSE 23138 Queer Modernism (Agnes Malinowska) This course examines the dramatic revisions in gender and sexuality that characterize Anglo-American modernity. Together, we will read literary texts by queer writers to investigate their role in shaping the period's emergent regimes of sex and gender. We'll consider queer revisions of these concepts for their effect on the broader social and political terrain of the early twentieth century and explore the intimate histories they made possible: What new horizons for kinship, care, affect, and the everyday reproduction of life did modernist ideas about sex and gender enable? At the same time, we will seek to "queer" modernism by shifting our attention away from high literary modernism and towards modernism's less-canonical margins. Our examination will center on queer lives relegated to the social and political margins-lives of exile or those cut short by various forms of dispossession. This class will double as an advanced introduction to queer theory, with a particular emphasis on literary criticism. (LT)
ENGL 27706/47706 Bodies, Feelings, and Unmentionable Wounds: The Enlightenment and the Comic Novel (Tristan Schweiger) The Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries is often conceived as the beginning of European modernity itself. In the before times (the story goes), the world was ruled by tyrant kings, the Church had an ironclad grip on knowledge production, and science remained stuck in the Middle Ages. Then a few brave, wig-wearing thinkers got together and invented democracy, medicine, and the very concept of political rights. This is a reductive narrative that effaces, among other things, the way Enlightenment ideas could serve to further entrench structures of power and oppression. Moreover, it neglects the diverse critiques and counter-discourses that came out of the period - many of which anticipate twenty-first-century debates. Laurence Sterne's raucous, satiric, and sprawling magnum opus, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759-67) is a novel intimately engaged with all of that. Although critics of the 1700s were perplexed by the weirdness of its form (Tristram Shandy is a mock autobiography whose "author" isn't born until Vol. III), Sterne has been tremendously influential to writers like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, and contemporary readers and critics are drawn to this strange, brilliant, and often "postmodern"-feeling novel for the complexity of how it works its way through discourses of the body, knowledge, race, gender, emotion, and more. In this course, we will read Tristram Shandy alongside many Enlightenment thinkers with whom Sterne is in dialogue. (LG-F, LT)
ENGL 27708/ENGL 47708/AMER 27708/AMER 47708/ CRES 20030 Feeling Brown, Feeling Down (Megan Tusler) Taking its cue from José Esteban Muñoz's 2006 essay in Signs, this course interrogates negative affective categories as they are expressed in US ethnic literature in the 20th and 21st centuries. As Muñoz argues, "depression has become one of the dominant affective positions addressed within the cultural field of contemporary global capitalism"; this course explores orientations such as depression, shame, sickness, and melancholy to think critically about racial formations amidst capital and how these are posed alongside literary questions. Primary texts may include Larsen, Ozeki, Morrison, and Okada; secondary texts may include Ahmed, Freud, Muñoz, Cheng, and Spillers. (LT)
ENGL 28230 Fashion and Change: The Theory of Fashion (Timothy Campbell) This course offers a representative view of foundational and recent fashion theory, fashion history, and fashion art, with a historical focus on the long modern era extending from the eighteenth century to the present. While engaging the general aesthetic, sociological, and commercial phenomenon of fashion, we will also devote special attention to fashion as a discourse self-reflexively preoccupied with the problem of cultural change—the surprisingly difficult question of how and why “change” does or does not happen. We will aim for a broader appreciation of fashion’s inner workings—its material processes, its practitioners—but we will also confront the long tradition of thinking culture itself through fashion, to ask how we might productively do the same. (LT)
ENGL 24526/34526 Forms of Autobiography in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries (Christine Fouirnaies) This course examines the innovative, creative forms autobiography has taken in the last one hundred years in literature. We will study closely works written between 1933 and 2013 that are exceptional for the way they challenge, subvert and invigorate the autobiographical genre. From unpublished sketches to magazine essays and full-length books, we will see autobiography take many forms and engage with multiple genres and media. These include biography, memoir, fiction, literary criticism, travel literature, the graphic novel and photography. Producing various mutations of the autobiographical genre, these works address some of the same concerns: the self, truth, memory, authenticity, agency and testimony. We will complement discussions of these universal issues with material and historical considerations, examining how the works first appeared and were received. Autobiography will prove a privileged site for probing constructions of family narratives, identity politics and public personas. The main authors studied are Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, Vladimir Nabokov, Roland Barthes, Paul Auster, Doris Lessing, Marjane Satrapi and W.G. Sebald. (LG-NF, F)
ENGL 27870/37870 Midcentury Modern Fiction: Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Sylvia Townsend Warner (Maud Ellmann) In this course we will study three British (or in Bowen’s case, Anglo-Irish) novelists whose principal works were published between the 1920s and the 1970s. While Woolf is well-known, Bowen and Warner have only begun to receive the recognition they deserve. We will read a selection of their fiction, probably including Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Between the Acts, Bowen’s The Last September and The Heat of the Day, and Warner’s Lolly Willowes and Summer Will Show. We will also read a selection of these writers’ shorter works, especially Bowen’s and Warner’s extraordinary stories about Britain in World War II. Assignments will consist of collaborative class presentations, regular contributions to the online discussion board, and a final paper. (LG-F)
ENGL 32123 Ecopoetics: Literature and Ecology (Jennifer Scappettone) This course will introduce students to recent debates in the environmental humanities and simultaneously to a range of creative responses across fiction, documentary, poetry, and the visual arts spurred by the effects of what has come to be called the Anthropocene epoch (despite substantive challenges to the term that we will address)— in a period of perceived grave environmental crisis. Students will be asked to respond critically to the works at hand, but also to conduct their own research and on-site fieldwork in Chicago on an environmental issue of their choosing. Students must be available for several field trips. (LT)
ENGL 34770 Digital Media Aesthetics: Interaction, Connection, and Improvisation (Patrick Jagoda)This course investigates the ways that digital and networked media have changed contemporary aesthetics, forms, storytelling practices, and cultures. Along the way, we will analyze electronic literature, Twine games, interactive dramas, video games, transmedia narratives, and more. Formally, we will explore concepts such as multilinear narrative, immersive and navigable worlds, network aesthetics, interactive difficulty, aleatory poetics, and videogame mechanics. Throughout the quarter, our analysis of computational media aesthetics will be haunted by matters of race, gender, sexuality, class, and other ghosts in the machine. Students need not be technologically gifted or savvy, but a wide-ranging imagination and interest in new media cultures will make for a more exciting quarter. (LT)
ENGL 35670 Modernist Poetry (Maud Ellmann) This introduction to modernist poetry focuses on British, Irish, and expatriate American poets such as T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Mina Loy, and W.B. Yeats. We will also consider some of their antecedents (such as Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Charlotte Mew) and some of their contemporaries, known as the “war poets,” such as Wilfred Owen, David Jones, Siegfried Sassoon, and Isaac Rosenberg. Assignments will consist of: two papers, collaborative class presentations, and regular contributions to the online discussion board. (LG-P)
ENGL 46202 Performance Theory: Action, Affect, Archive (Loren Kruger) (MA/PhD level course) This seminar offers a critical introduction to performance theory and its applications to theatre and other practices. We will discuss three key conceptual clusters:
a) action, acting, and forms of production or play, from classical (Aristotle) through modern (Hegel, Brecht, Artaud), to contemporary (Richard Schechner, Philip Zarilli, others)
b) affect, and its intersections with emotion and feeling: in addition to contemporary theories, we will read earlier texts that anticipate recent debates (Diderot, Freud) and their current interpreters (Joseph Roach, Erin Hurley, others), as well as writing about the absence of affect and the performance of failure (Sara Bailes, etc.),
c) archives and related institutions and theories, including audience formation (Susan Bennett) and challenges of recording ephemeral acts: theorists of memory (Pierre Nora) and remains (Rebecca Schneider), theatre historians (Daphne Brookes, Tracy Davis and others) as well as current theorists on the tensions between the archive and the repertoire (Diana Taylor) Course expectations include active and complete participation; two oral presentations and a final paper. The final paper could be a review article (ca 5000 words) using two recent books in your field to examine key concepts that define the field and controversies they may engender. (LT)
CMLT 29991 Affect at the Close: Climate Change, Capitalism, Creating Alternatives (Claudio Sansone) How does it feel to leave a world behind? Are we already trained in this experience as readers of fictions, who leave worlds behind whenever we put down a book? Can this experience of imperfectly moving on from one world to another, whether the real world or that of another fiction, teach us anything about ourselves as human beings navigating the epochal shifts of climate change and late-stage capitalism? What narrative strategies emphasize the affective and embodied dimensions of entering and exiting from their fictional worlds? We will start answering these questions by reading J. G. Ballard’s The Drowned World, Giorgio Bassani’s The Garden of the Finzi-Contini, and Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World. Other course texts will be determined by student interests. Secondary and theoretical material will be drawn from a range of writers including Georges Didi-Huberman, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Lauren Berlant, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Mark Fisher, Kenneth Burke, Edward Said, Ursula Heise, Amitav Ghosh, and Ursula K. Le Guin. This is a theory-oriented course that does not require previous knowledge. Students will have the option of producing a creative final project instead of a paper. (LT)
RLST 26670/SIGN 26067/CMLT 26670 Religious Autobiographies (Richard Rosengarten) The self who writes their life is a remarkably protean form of religious narrative. Autobiographical texts aim to be representative and at the same time are almost always idiosyncratic: they want to instruct, and they must disclose to do so. The course begins by considering two outstanding examples of the genre, Augustine’s Confessions (ca. 400 C.E.) and Malcolm X’s Autobiography (1965), before proceeding to examine a range of autobiographical narratives whose relation to religion is somewhat less paradigmatic. Our reading of these texts will be structured around four of the genre's major themes: conversion, confession, memory, and identity. Possible authors to be considered include Mahmoud Darwish, Frederick Douglass, and Maggie Nelson, among many others. For the writing component of the course, students will have the option of producing either 1) a series of short, analytic papers on a selected autobiography concerning each of the course themes, or 2) of composing one chapter of their own autobiography. (LG-NF)
ENGL | English Language and Literature
CMST | Cinema and Media Studies
CLAS | Classics
CMLT | Comparative Literature
BIBL | Divinity
EALC | East Asian Languages and Civilizations
GRMN | Germanic Studies
HIST | History
NELC | Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
PHIL | Philosophy
RLLT | Romance Languages and Literatures
REES | Russian and East European Studies
SCTH | Social Thought
SALC | South Asian Languages and Civilizations
TAPS | Theatre and Performance Studies
Any class offered by the Department of English Language and Literature can satisfy the general literature requirement for Creative Writing. Please see below for a selection of English classes that satisfy specific requirements in genre (LG), theory (LT), and period (LC). Browse the full English catalog at https://english.uchicago.edu/courses.
ENGL 10606/TAPS 16606 Genre Fundamentals: Drama (John Muse) This course explores the pleasures and challenges of experiencing performance through the page. Students will read plays and performances from across the dramatic tradition closely, taking into account not only form, character, plot, and genre, but also theatrical considerations like staging, acting, spectatorship, and historical conventions. We will also consider how various agents—playwrights, readers, directors, actors, and audiences—generate plays and give them meaning. The course culminates in a scene project assignment that allows students put their skills of interpretation and adaptation into practice. No experience with theater is expected. Fulfills the Genre Fundamentals requirement in English.
ENGL 10703/AMER 10703 20th Century Short Fiction (William Veeder) This course presents America's major writers of short fiction in the 20th century. We will begin with Willa Cather's "Paul's Case" in 1905 and proceed to the masters of High Modernism, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Porter, Welty, Ellison, Nabokov; on through the next generation, O'Connor, Pynchon, Roth, Mukherjee, Coover, Carver; and end with more recent work by Danticat, Tan, and the microfictionists. Our initial effort with each text will be close reading, from which we will move out to consider questions of ethnicity, gender, and psychology. Writing is also an important concern of the course. There will be two papers and an individual tutorial with each student. (LG-F)
ENGL 11004 History of the Novel (Maud Ellmann) In this course we will read at least one novel from each century from the 18th to the 21st. We will also consider how some of these novels have been adapted to the cinema. Authors are likely to include some of the following: Henry Fielding, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Vladimir Nabokov, Tom McCarthy, and others. Where relevant we will also consider theories of fiction, narrative, and the novel, such as those of Mikhail Bakhtin, Roland Barthes, E.M. Forster, and René Girard. (LG-F, LC, LT)
ENGL 11008/CMLT 11008/LACS 11008/SPAN 21008 Introduction to Latinx Literature (Rachel Galvin) From the activist literature of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement to contemporary fiction and poetry, this course explores the forms, aesthetics, and political engagements of U.S. Latinx literature in the 20th and 21st centuries. Theoretical readings are drawn from Chicanx Studies, Latinx Studies, American Studies, Latin American Studies, Hemispheric Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Postcolonial Studies, as we explore Latinx literature in the context of current debates about globalization, neoliberalism, and U.S. foreign policy; Latinx literature’s response to technological and socio-political changes and its engagement with race, gender, sexuality, class, and labor; and its dialogues with indigenous, Latin American, North American, and European literatures. (LT, LG-F, P)
ENGL 12320/CMST 27916/GNSE 22320/MAAD 12320/SIGN 26038 Critical Videogame Studies (Patrick Jagoda, Ashlyn Sparrow) Since the 1960s, games have arguably blossomed into the world's most profitable and experimental medium. This course attends specifically to video games, including popular arcade and console games, experimental art games, and educational serious games. Students will analyze both the formal properties and sociopolitical dynamics of video games. Readings by theorists such as Ian Bogost, Roger Caillois, Alenda Chang, Nick Dyer‐Witheford, Mary Flanagan, Jane McGonigal, Soraya Murray, Lisa Nakamura, Amanda Phillips, and Trea Andrea Russworm will help us think about the growing field of video game studies. Students will have opportunities to learn about game analysis and apply these lessons to a collaborative game design project. Students need not be technologically gifted or savvy, but a wide-ranging imagination and interest in digital media or game cultures will make for a more exciting quarter. This is a 2021-22 Signature Course in the College. (LT)
ENGL 15430 The Origins of Utopia and Utopian Literature (Ryan Campagna) This course examines the foundations of utopian literature and its cultural footprint over time, including Thomas More’s classic text, Utopia, and other early modern responses to it. While we will attempt to sort out the hallmarks and boundaries of this genre as well as what makes imagining utopia so irresistible, special consideration will also be given to how these texts construct notions of gender/sexuality, race, and nation. How do these texts teach us to imagine other futures and worlds for ourselves? And how do they comprehend the political utility of that act? Other authors/texts to be studied in the course include (but are not limited to) William Shakespeare, John Milton, and Robinson Crusoe, as well as two important figures in the history of women’s writing, Aphra Behn and Margaret Cavendish. Readings will span from prose fiction and non-fiction, to lyric and epic poetry, to drama. (LC)
ENGL 15480 Making Progress with the Victorian Novel (Julia Rossi) A widespread belief in “progress” – the idea that history is always improving over time in a one-way, linear fashion – gripped the imagination of nineteenth-century Britain. At the same time, Victorian literature is rife with anxiety over the certainty of progress. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde presents a scenario in which scientific advancement goes too far, accidentally producing something monstrous. Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles begs us to ask: is life necessarily getting better over time – and for whom? This course will interrogate the construction of the Victorian belief in progress, its ideological consequences, and its complex representation in literature. Among other questions, we will ask: How did the concept and rhetoric of progress bear upon some of the most important historical developments of the 19th century – including industrialization, imperialism, and the rise of evolutionary theory? In what ways did Victorian novels reflect, reinforce, or complicate the notion of progress? How is the idea of progress encoded within the tropes of literary genres (e.g., the Bildungsroman, or the “coming-of-age story”)? Readings may include novels by Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Gaskell, Bram Stoker, and Robert Louis Stevenson. (LT, LG-F)
ENGL 15560 Modern Love (Korey Williams) What is erotic love? In “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” Audre Lorde defines it as “our deepest and nonrational knowledge,” associated with intimacy and attachment as well as the “measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings.” Similarly, in Plato’s Symposium, erotic love is defined as something “in between mortal and immortal,” akin to discernment which is “something in between wisdom and ignorance.” In this course, we will question the “in-betweenness” of erotic love, what this rhetoric implies, and what it seems to make known and knowable in modern life. Authors may include James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros, Andre Aciman, Maggie Nelson, and Ocean Vuong. (LT)
ENGL 15570 Contemporary Climate Fictions (Evan Wisdom-Dawson) As the all-too scorching sun set on the past decade, news outlets the world over named 2019 “the year we woke up to climate change.” This course considers climate fictions across media, and tracks representations of disaster, extinction, contamination, and neocolonialism as “climate change” shifted to “climate crisis” and finally culminated in a “climate emergency” in the 2010s. What lessons do these stories of environmental crisis teach us? How do different media, forms, modes, genres, and aesthetics render these topics differently? What alternative endings do these texts imagine, and what might they be missing? Given that climate change disproportionately affects the poor, women, people of color, and Indigenous communities, we will pay particular attention to marginalized voices in conversations on environmental movements, and to the roles of marginalized characters in works of fiction. Possible films may include Jumana Manna’s Wild Relatives (2018), Wanuri Kahiu’s Pumzi (2009), and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Novels may include Ling Ma’s Severance (2018), Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves (2017), and Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (2014). Poetry collections may include Craig Santos Perez’s from unincorporated territory [saina] (2010), Tommy Pico’s Nature Poem (2016), and Juliana Spahr’s That Winter the Wolf Came (2015). (LT)
ENGL 16500/FNDL 21403/TAPS 28405 Shakespeare I: Histories and Comedies (Noémie Ndiaye) An exploration of some of Shakespeare's major plays from the first half of his professional career, when the genres in which he primarily worked were comedies and histories. Plays to be studied include The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Richard III, Richard II, and Henry V. Together, we will read some of Shakespeare’s queerest and most delightful comedies in conversation with darker troubling plays that revolve around sexual violence, racism, nationalism, and political theory, and we will see how such topics put generic boundaries to the test. Valuing those classics for their timeless craft but also for the situated cultural horizon that they evidence, we will explore what it means to take comedy and history seriously. Three short papers will be required. (LC)
ENGL 18930 Contemporary Poetry by the Press (Steven Maye) This course approaches contemporary innovative poetry by way of the small presses that publish and promote it. Students will read works of poetry from the last few decades alongside theoretical texts on poetry and publishing; write two reviews of recent poetry collections; survey the history of one small press and its most notable publications; and characterize the mixture of stylistic consistency and variation that makes that press viable over time. Presses covered will likely include Wave Books, Nightboat Books, Coach House Books, Futurepoem, and Commune Editions. (LG-P, LT)
ENGL 18950 Nineties Feminisms (Caroline Heller) This course will survey feminist literatures of the 1790s, 1890s, and 1990s. We will cover works by authors like Mary Wollstonecraft, Sarah Grand, and Greta Gaard as well as feminist movements from New Woman ideal in the 1890s to ecofeminism and material feminisms in the 1990s. (LC, LT)
ENGL 20375/30375 Emancipation in Literature and History (Kenneth Warren) This course explores 19th-century slave emancipation in the United States as conceived in imaginative literature and in the post-World War II historical imagination.
ENGL 22048/GNSE 22048 Girlhood (Heather Keenleyside) This course focuses on narratives in which the category of “girl” or “girlhood” is under construction, or called into question. We’ll begin with a number of works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (novels by Frances Burney, Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Bronte), and will move into novels, films, comics, and memoirs from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that draw on or depart from some of those earlier texts. Throughout, the course will draw on work from fields like sociology, history, and feminist and queer theory to consider changing conceptions of childhood, adolescence, and development, as well as the way that intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability shape categories and narratives of “girlhood.” (LT)
ENGL 23301 Postcolonial England (Kaushik Sunder Rajan) In 1948, the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, Essex. Onboard were people who were from colonies such as Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad: they were migrants and subjects of the British Crown, as well as descendants of enslaved Africans and indentured Asians from the West Indian sugar colonies. Their arrival would transform British society, forcing a confrontation with its colonial past. And, what we now know as Caribbean literature took hold in this period, as newly-arrived West Indian writers found platforms for their work on radio and in London publishing houses. They and their descendants have commented on and critiqued race, empire, and plantation histories since. This course explores the legacies of Windrush as social, political, and aesthetic phenomena. Beginning with Henry Swanzy, Una Marson, and their leadership on BBC's radio show Caribbean Voices, we will engage with the creative works of Windrush migrants and their descendants: Samuel Selvon, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Hew Locke, and others. To understand social struggle, we will study the life of activist Claudia Jones and her founding of the West Indian Gazette And Afro-Asian Caribbean News. Finally, we will also examine the 2018 Windrush Scandal, in which at least 83 Britons were unjustly deported, in conversation with works like Hazel Carby's account of the intertwined histories of Jamaica and Britain, Imperial Intimacies (2019). Additionally, we will travel throughout London for museum and studio visits. (LT)
ENGL 23302/ARCH 23302 Gothic Fiction and Architecture (Benjamin Morgan) In this course we study the aesthetics and politics of gothic fiction and architecture. Many of us associate Gothic fiction with fearful tales of mystery and suspense. But the rise of a Gothic aesthetic in the eighteenth and nineteenth century was a political movement: British writers, architects, and architects embraced Gothic medievalism to express their opposition to capitalism and industrialization. We will study gothic fiction since the eighteenth century, paying particular attention to how this fiction was used to comment on a rapidly developing society. Our study of gothic fiction will draw us into the real spaces of London, where we will tour renowned Gothic Revival buildings such as the Houses of Parliament, St. Pancras railway station, and possibly a crypt or two. Readings may include Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto; Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey; Bram Stoker, Dracula; Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray; and Henry James, The Turn of the Screw. (This course fulfills the Creative Writing Fiction literary genre requirement.) Part of the Autumn 2021 Study Abroad London Program (Literature and Social Change). (LC, LG-F)
ENGL 23304/ARCH 23304 The Stage and the City: Performance and Daily Life in Renaissance London Between the years 1500 and 1660, London developed into an urban superpower. By 1660, London was boasting a population of 350,000, which was nearly six times its population in the early sixteenth century (~60,000). This course asks what it was like to live in London as it evolved into something equal parts new, exciting, and frightening. We will be considering this question through three city comedies set in London and written between 1609 and 1640. City comedies are particularly good at detailing the perils, thrills, and novel sensoria of an expanding metropolis. We will use these plays as a testing ground to articulate for ourselves what central issues have been raised by London-living over the centuries. What was it like to go to an early iteration of a shopping mall? How were categories of disability, race, gender, and sexuality negotiated through this dense and diverse population? How have city dwellers dealt with plague or famine? Students will be asked to use the issues drawn from this historical context to formulate their own research project about any period of London's history. Throughout the course, the class will take field trips to London neighborhoods, an archive, a theatre performance, and several museums. By engaging with the resources and experiences available in 21st-century London, students will use their imagination and research skills to travel back in time and discover the various "Londons" that have emerged over this city's history. Part of the Autumn 2021 Study Abroad London Program.
ENGL 24002/34002/ FNDL 24004 James Joyce’s Ulysses (Maud Ellmann) This course consists of a chapter-by-chapter introduction to Ulysses. We will focus on such themes as the city, aesthetics, politics, sex, food, religion, and the family, while paying close attention to Joyce’s use of multiple narrators and styles. Students are strongly encouraged to read Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Homer’s Odyssey as preparation for this course. Assignments will consist of quizzes, collaborative class presentations, regular contributions to the online discussion board, and a final paper.
ENGL 28290/38290/FNDL 28290 Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa (Frances Ferguson) This course will examine the very long and possibly—very probably—the greatest novel in the English language. We’ll consider the effect of Richardson’s decision to conduct his novel as a series of letters, and we’ll pay particular attention to his extraordinary effectiveness in creating complexity in a fairly simple plot and in tracking an ever-expanding cast of characters. The Penguin edition we’ll be using comes to 1499 pages, and they are over-sized pages. This is a course for committed readers! (LC)
ENGL 29992/49992/ARTH 29992/39992/ARTV 20022/30022/CMST 27505/37505 Metapictures (W. J. T. Mitchell) This course is based on an exhibition that was first staged at the Overseas Contemporary Art Terminal in Beijing in the fall of 2018, and subsequently re-enacted at the Royal Academy in Brussels in the spring of 2020. The exhibition explores “pictures within pictures,” images that reflect on the nature of image-making, across a range of media and genres. A virtual version of the exhibition is available on the Prezi platform: https://prezi.com/oogd4qxqu4m2/copy-of-working-copy-of-metapictures/?pr… , and a physical installation, supported by the Smart Museum, will be installed in the Media Arts Data and Design Center (MADD). Visual materials for the course include paintings and drawings, diagrams, models of the visual process, image “atlases,” multi-stable images, cinematic and literary representations of images nested within narratives. The readings for the course will include Michel Foucault on Velasquez’s Las Meninas, Walter Benjamin on “dialectical images,” C. S. Peirce on iconicity, Nelson Goodman on analog and digital codes, and Georges Didi-Huberman on Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Bilderatlas. Students will be encouraged to explore traditional examples of metapictures such as the Duck-Rabbit (canonized by Gombrich and Wittgenstein) or to investigate newly emergent forms of self-reflexive media. Guest lectures will be given by Patrick Jagoda on experimental games and Hillary Chute on comics and graphic narrative; these might be coordinated with the Media Aesthetics core sequence in the fall term, which focuses on the question of the image. (LT)
ENGL 35950/TAPS 35950 Beckett and Media (John Muse) Though best known for a single play, Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett was a poet, novelist, short-story writer, playwright, translator, and critic with a voluminous output. This course introduces students to the variety and influence of one of the central figures in twentieth-century literature and theater by considering Beckett’s better-known plays—both on the page and in recorded performances—alongside select novels, criticism, film, radio, and television pieces. Among the questions we will ask are: What can Beckett’s experiments across media teach us about the presumed and actual limits of form? What happens when a medium becomes the means of its own undoing? What can we learn from Beckett’s career about cardinal developments in twentieth-century drama, literature, film, and television?
ENGL 36210 Translation Theory and Practice (Rachel Galvin) This course introduces students to the field of Translation Studies and its key concepts, including fidelity, equivalence, and untranslatability, as well as the ethics and politics of translation. We will investigate the metaphors and models that have been used to think about translation and will consider translation as a transnational practice, exploring how “world histories” may be hidden within “word histories,” as Emily Apter puts it. In the process, we will assess theories of translation and poetry from classical antiquity to the present; compare multiple translations of the same text; and examine notable recent translations. Students will regularly carry out translation exercises and create a final translation project of their own. (LT)
ENGL 36590 The Pleasure of Hating: Satire Now and Then (Alexis Chema) "Satire exposes human folly to ridicule in order," as Jonathan Swift claimed, “to mend the world.” This course will examine the protean mode of satire—its history, its forms, its pleasures and its politics—beginning with the origins of satire in Ancient Greece and Rome and extending through the literary satire of the 17th-19th centuries, with some consideration of these works in relation to popular contemporary forms like news satire and sketch comedy. We will supplement our reading with theoretical and critical discussions of satire by John Dryden, William Hazlitt, Mikhail Bakhtin, Northrop Frye, Linda Hutcheon, and others. (LT)
ENGL 37270 Empire Books (Josephine McDonagh) This course will examine books that were important in the British project of empire in the nineteenth century, both as texts contributing to debates about empire and its operations, and as material objects that circulated around the globe. We will take up three themes: commodities and their regimes (e.g. Opium, and the Opium Wars); slavery and other types of labor migration; settler colonialism. Books will include Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821); Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave, Related by Herself (1831); [Edward Gibbon Wakefield], A Letter from Sydney (1829); Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847). The class will meet in Special Collections in Regenstein. The class is open to undergraduates by permission.
CMST 10100/ENGL 10800/ARTV 20300 Introduction to Film Analysis (Maria Belodubrovskaya) This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis, which are discussed through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial oeuvres. Along with questions of film technique and style, we consider the notion of the cinema as an institution that comprises an industrial system of production, social and aesthetic norms and codes, and particular modes of reception. Films discussed include works by Capra, Dash, Deren, Keaton, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Riggs and Sirk.
CMST 14400 Film and the Moving Image (David Burnham III) This course seeks to develop skills in perception, comprehension, and interpretation when dealing with film and other moving image media. It encourages the close analysis of audiovisual forms, their materials and formal attributes, and explores the range of questions and methods appropriate to the explication of a given film or moving image text. It also examines the intellectual structures basic to the systematic study and understanding of moving images. Most importantly, the course aims to foster in students the ability to translate this understanding into verbal expression, both oral and written. Texts and films are drawn from the history of narrative, experimental, animated, and documentary or non-fiction cinema. Screenings are a mandatory course component.
CMST 21502/GNSE 12110 Women in Hollywood (Aurore Spiers) In a video produced for InStyle in January 2020, the actress turned movie director Olivia Wilde expressed that "Hollywood used to be dominated by women and then we rolled back the clock and destroyed the evidence. We're bringing it back to that time and celebrating those ladies. The important, powerful, brilliant positions they held in this industry may have been buried and forgotten. But not by us." Taking the recent public debate about gender and racial discrimination in Hollywood as its starting place, this class explores-through historical, theoretical, and formal approaches, and close readings of texts and films-women's involvement in the US film industry, where women have served as actors, directors, screenwriters, producers, costume designers, technicians, and production secretaries since the early days. The focus of discussion will range from gender representation, spectatorship, and feminist film theory, including "the male gaze"; through questions of aesthetics and gender, race, and sexuality in films directed by women-identifying filmmakers; through feminized labor, access, and visibility; to women's film history, feminist historiography, and archival absences. Films discussed will include works by Dorothy Arzner, Shirley Clarke, Sofia Coppola, Julie Dash, Cheryl Dunye, Zackary Drucker, Patty Jenkins, Claudia Weill, and Olivia Wilde. (LT)
CMST 23500/33500/ITAL 28400/38400/GNSE 28600/38600/ITAL 38400/FNDL 28401 Pasolini (Armando Maggi) This course examines each aspect of Pasolini's artistic production according to the most recent literary and cultural theories, including Gender Studies. We shall analyze his poetry (in particular "Le Ceneri di Gramsci" and "Poesie informa di rosa"), some of his novels ("Ragazzi di vita," "Una vita violenta," "Teorema," "Petrolio"), and his numerous essays on the relationship between standard Italian and dialects, semiotics and cinema, and the role of intellectuals in contemporary Western culture. We shall also discuss the following films: "Accattone," "La ricotta," "Edipo Re," "Teorema," and "Salo". (LT)
CMST 24405/34405/REES 21002/31002/FNDL 25312/CMLT 24405 Kieslowski's French Cinema (Bozena Shallcross) Krzysztof Kieślowski's The Decalogue and The Double Life of Veronique catapulted the Polish director to the international scene. His subsequent French triptych Blue, White, Red turned out to be his last works that altered his image and legacy to affirm his status as an auteur and a representative of the transnational cinema. We discuss how in his virtual universe of parallel histories and repeated chances, captured with visually and aurally dazzling artistry, the possibility of reconstituting one's identity, triggered by tragic loss and betrayal, reveals an ever-ambiguous reality. By focusing on the filmmaker's dissolution of the thing-world, often portrayed on the verge of vague abstraction of (in)audibility or (un)transparency, this course bridges his cinema with the larger concepts of postmodern subjectivity and possibility of metaphysics. The course concludes with the filmmaker's contribution to world cinema. All along, we read selections from Kieślowski's and Piesiewicz's screen scripts, Kieślowski's own writings and interviews, as well as from the abundant criticism of his French movies. All materials are in English. (LT)
CMST 26303 Chris Marker (Dominique Bluher) Chris Marker (1921-2012) is one of the most influential and important filmmakers to emerge in the post-war era in France, yet he remains relatively unknown to a wider audience. Marker's multifaceted work encompasses writing, photography, filmmaking, videography, gallery installation, television, and digital multimedia. He directed over 60 films and is known foremost for his "essay films," a hybrid of documentary and personal reflection, which he invigorated if not invented with films like Lettre de Sibérie (Letter from Siberia, 1958) or Sans Soleil (Sunless, 1983). His most famous film, La Jetée (1962), his only (science) fiction film made up almost entirely of black-and-white still photographs, was the inspiration for Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys (1995). In 1990, he created his first multi-media installation, Zapping Zone, and in 1997 he experimented with the format of the CD-Rom to create a multi-layered, multimedia memoir (Immemory). In 2008, he continued his venture into digital spaces with Ouvroir, realized on the platform of Second Life. Marker was a passionate traveler who documented the journeys he took, the people he met, and revolutionary upheavals at home and afar. We will follow Marker's travels through time, space, and media, during which we will also encounter artists with whom he crossed paths, with whom he collaborated, or who were inspired by his work.
CMST 27022/MAAD 27022 Surveillance Media (Gary Kafer) Surveillance media are ubiquitous: in your pocket, on the street, at school, underground, and in the air. They work incessantly and quietly, often without our knowledge but always with the goal of producing knowledge about us. But they don't do so equally. Wedded to concepts of security, risk, and crisis, surveillance is itself a technology of power. While some of us benefit from surveillance in certain contexts, many others are disproportionally targeted based on differences of race, gender, sexuality, class, religious affiliation, ability, citizenship, and more. This course will explore how surveillance media distribute power in the United States and across its global connections. Throughout, we will understand surveillance media not only as the specific technologies used for surveillance, but also how these technologies differentially mediate our bodies, behaviors, communities, and political relationships. Beginning with various theoretical frameworks of surveillance, this course will track surveillance media across various sites and systems. These include borders, policing, drones, algorithms, and labor. In each, we will examine both contemporary and historical materials in order to consider how our dominant ideas and values about surveillance media are rooted in the ideologies and violences of capitalism, colonialism, and empire. We conclude by exploring modalities of resistance in art and grassroots organizing that imagine more just futures. (LT)
CMST 28500/48500/CMLT 22400/32400/ENGL 29300/48700/ARTH 28500/38500/MAPH 33600/ARTV 20002/MAAD 18500 History of International Cinema I: Silent Era (Daniel Morgan) This course provides a survey of the history of cinema from its emergence in the mid-1890s to the transition to sound in the late 1920s. We will examine the cinema as a set of aesthetic, social, technological, national, cultural, and industrial practices as they were exercised and developed during this 30-year span. Especially important for our examination will be the exchange of film techniques, practices, and cultures in an international context. We will also pursue questions related to the historiography of the cinema, and examine early attempts to theorize and account for the cinema as an artistic and social phenomenon. (LT)
CMLT 21822/ITALL 21822/ENST 21822 Creative Ecologies: Environmental and Multispecies Storytelling (Elizabeth Tavella) Literature plays a pivotal role in addressing environmental issues: it can perpetuate damaging narratives or offer creative solutions for sustainable living. What is then the role of literature in an era of ecological crisis? How does literature forward environmental change? How do writers represent the natural world and imagine innovative ways of living ecologically? To answer these questions, we will turn to the field of ecocriticism informed by queer ecology, decolonial thought and critical animal studies. We will explore the themes of migration, extinction, displacement, hegemony, and biodiversity in texts of various genres, from poetry to speculative fiction, particularly in relation to imperial, colonial and capitalist ecologies. Besides questioning troublesome dichotomies within our corpus, such as domestic/wilderness and nature/culture, we will also examine the links between environmental concerns and gender, race, class, and species. While we will be attentive to the specificities of the Italian local environment to fully unravel the role of Italy in aggravating or lessening environmental problems, our approach will remain comparative and global in scope. We will also revisit the literary canon and privilege the stories of historically disenfranchised voices that narrativize ethical and sociopolitical issues related to ecology. The course will include visits to Special Collections and the Map Collection to further enrich our engagement with the literary sources. (LG-P-F, LT)
CMLT 24651/34651/CRES 23100/ENGL 24651/34651/GNSE 22823/32823 Global Horrors: Film, Literature, Theory (Hoda El Shakry) This course explores literary and cinematic works of horror from around the world. Subgenres of horror include gothic/uncanny, sci-fi horror, post-apocalyptic, paranormal, monsters, psychological horror, thrillers, killer/slasher, and gore/body-horror, among others. As a mode of speculative fiction, horror envisions possible or imagined worlds that center on curiosities, dreads, fears, terrors, phobias and paranoias that simultaneously repel and attract. Works of horror are most commonly concerned with anxieties about death, the unknown, the other, and our selves. (LT)
CMLT 25662/GNSE 20105/CRES 25662/LACS 25662/HLTH 25662 Archiving AIDS: Art, Literature, Theory (Kris Trujillo) The AIDS pandemic had a major impact on cultural production of the 1980s and the 1990s. But its effects did not end with the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in 1995. This course will examine the AIDS archive in its broadest sense-including art, literature, and theory produced in direct and indirect response to the pandemic from the 1980s to the present. What was the role of cultural production in political activism? What kinds of narratives did the allegorization of AIDS make possible and normalize? How has the AIDS pandemic been remembered and memorialized in more contemporary art and literature? Drawing from U.S., Latin American, and European texts, we will explore how AIDS has impacted sociopolitical issues related to sexuality, gender, class, and race. (LT)
CMLT 26102/36102/GNSE 26104/36104/RLST 26102/RLVC 36102 Ecstasy (Kris Trujillo) The concept of ecstasy is often associated with an extraordinary experience of the philosophical, sexual, and religious varieties, but in what way is ecstasy also bound to rituals of the ordinary? In this course we will explore numerous ways that ecstasy and synonymous terms like "orgasm," "bliss," and "jouissance" have been conceptualized in philosophical, theological, and literary texts from late antiquity to the present. What does the figural relationship between ecstasy and orgasm suggest about the broader relationship between philosophy, theology, sexuality, and desire? What role do pleasure and pain play in philosophical and theological reflection? How has ecstasy been deployed both as a form of political resistance and as complicit in the perpetuation of histories of violence? Focusing on the Christian tradition and its impact on queer theory, our readings may include, but are not limited to, texts by Plotinus, Pseudo-Dionysius, Margaret Ebner, Hadewijch, Margery Kempe, Teresa of Ávila, Lacan, Glück, Edelman, and Muñoz. (LT)
EALC 10622 Topics in EALC: Understanding Games and Play with Pre-modern East Asian Literature (Jiayi Chen) Games are everywhere, so pervasive that we tend to take for granted what games are and how the notion of play is associated with specific cultural and historical contexts. In this class, we will defamiliarize our understandings of games and play by exploring their active interactions with literature mainly in pre-modern China and Japan. From Tang dynasty riddle tales to Edo period puppet theater, from the fantastic pilgrimage in the novel Journey to the West to the virtual journey on the Sugoroku game board-all these materials we will cover in class center on the ways in which playing, storytelling, and reading go hand in hand with one another. Stories are turned into literary games, and sometimes, games start to tell stories. By engaging theories in game studies, media studies, and narratology with a close reading and discussion of selected tales, novels, and plays, we will consider: What aspects of games and play, as well as their related cultural values can we discover in these literary works? How do games and play as a perspective enable us to consider such issues as fictional world, objecthood, adaptation, and memory in literature and beyond? How do certain narrative and stylistic devices in different media (e.g. textual, visual, and material) function in our examination of games and stories? All readings will be provided in English. (LC)
EALC 20667/30667/MAPH 30667 Ecological Imagination in Modern Chinese Short Fiction (Yiren Zheng) In this class, we will explore a variety of environments and ecological systems portrayed in Chinese short stories in the 20th and 21st centuries, ranging from forests to media ecology. What do fictional tales tell us about the relationship between human beings and nature and the interaction between people inhabiting different types of environment (e.g. the urban versus the rural)? How is ecocriticism entangled with literary criticism? How can we gain a new perspective on the genre of short fiction by considering techniques for storytelling in ecological terms? We will read stories written by famous Chinese writers including Lu Xun, Yu Hua, and Mo Yan (the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2012) in conjunction with a selection of theoretical texts. This class welcomes EALC majors and minors, MAPH students, and other students who are interested in this topic. No prior knowledge of Chinese is needed. (LG-F, LT)
GRMN 24819/34819 Maniacs, Specters, Automata: The Tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann (Margareta Christian) In this course we will read stories by one of the most prominent representatives of Romanticism, the German writer, composer, and painter E.T.A. Hoffmann who wrote "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" on which Tchaikovsky would later base his ballet. His stories of bizarre yet psychologically compelling characters will introduce us to the "dark side" of Romanticism as well as to its fantastical aspects. Students will read Hoffmann's extraordinary stories, develop skills of literary analysis, and engage in historical inquiry by tracing the way in which Hoffmann's texts engage with the context of their time, in particular with the history of medicine (mesmerism, early psychiatry) and law (Hoffmann worked as a legal official). Those with reading knowledge of German can read the texts in the original, otherwise readings and discussions will be in English.
GRMN 25005 The Pleasure of Literature: The Novella (Margareta Christian) According to Ian McEwan, the novella is "the perfect form of prose fiction. It is the beautiful daughter of a rambling, bloated, ill-shaven giant" (i.e., the novel.) This course introduces students to the short prose form of the German novella from Romanticism to the present. We will use the genre of the novella to explore the many pleasures of reading literature, among which storytelling features prominently. What kind of storytelling happens in a novella? Where does the pleasure of reading stem from? How can we think the relationship between pleasure and literature? How do developments in new media and new modes of reading affect our pleasure? How can we compare our literary gratification to other types of readerly gratification such as those coming from news articles, blog entries, and other short forms (aphorisms, magazine articles) - or, for that matter, the "reading" of images? Might the pleasure of literature also point to its utility? Readings include: Boccaccio, Goethe, Hoffmann, Kleist, Keller, Büchner, Schnitzler, M. Walser, and others, alongside some scientific articles (e.g., cognitive neuroscience) and theoretical texts. (LG-F)
HIST 27006/37006 (AMER 27006/37006, LLSO 25411) Not Just the Facts: Telling About the American South (J. Dailey) This course engages the various ways people have tried to make sense of the American South, past and present. Main themes of the course include the difference between historical scholarship and writing history in fictional form; the role of the author in each, and consideration of the interstitial space of autobiography; the question of authorial authenticity; and the tension between contemporary demands for truthfulness and the rejection of "facts" and "truth." We will read across several genres, including historical scholarship, biography, and fiction. (LG-NF)
MAPH 42920 Coming of Age: Reading and Writing Autobiographical Memoirs (W. Boast, E. Hadley)
(Crosslisted as CRWR 20500/40500)
This course seeks to study the mixed literary history of coming-of-age narratives, beginning with 19th century autobiography and the Bildungsroman through to modern memoir in order to inform the writing of our own coming-of-age narratives. The analytical and creative habits of mind will be closely linked in this course as we learn about how childhood, adolescence and development took on new significance in the nineteenth century, setting generic terms that were continually mobilized, revised and reimagined in the coming-of-age memoirs of the twentieth century and beyond. Readings by Mary Prince, John Stuart Mill, Charlotte Bronte, George Orwell, Blake Morrison, Helen McDonald, and Jan Morris. (LG-NF)
PHIL 21206/CRES 21206 Philosophy of Race and Racism (Tyler Zimmer) The idea that there exist different "races" of human beings is something that many-perhaps even most-people in the United States today take for granted. And yet modern notions of "race" and "racial difference" raise deep philosophical problems: What exactly is race? Is race a natural kind (like water) or a social kind (like citizenship)? If race is a social kind-i.e. something human beings have constructed-are there any good reasons to keep using it? According to many philosophers, these questions cannot be properly analyzed in abstraction from the history of modern racism and the liberation struggles racial oppression has given rise to. Together, we'll read classic and contemporary texts on these themes by authors such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, Angela Davis, Charles Mills, Naomi Zack, Chike Jeffers, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Lucius Outlaw. (LT)
PHIL 27601 The Aftermath of Wrongdoing (Emily Dupree) What does it mean to say that some action was wrong? And what are we supposed to do about it? This course takes a closer look at wrongdoing and what comes next, whether it's morally permissible or abhorrent. We will explore topics in theories of punishment, moral repair, restorative justice, forgiveness, and revenge in order to map out the normative terrain we face as moral agents living in a world with wrongdoing. Emphasis will be placed on first-personal accounts of these phenomena, including memoirs written after the Holocaust, accounts of colonialism, and testimony from within the U.S. prison industrial complex. We will explore these phenomena using theoretical frameworks from philosophers including Kant, Mill, Margaret Walker, Angela Davis, Jean Hampton, Martha Nussbaum, and Simone de Beauvoir. (LT)
REES 29155/39155/ENST 29155 From Chekhov to Chernobyl: Russian Literature of Environmental Catastrophe (Anne Moss) What is it that made the fact of anthropogenic climate change "unthinkable" in the 20th century, and what ideas might allow us to think past what Amitav Ghosh calls this "great derangement"? Environmental degradation and disaster provide a steady backdrop to the 20th century in Russia and the Soviet Union. With control over one sixth of the world's land mass, the Russian and Soviet Empires exploited the seemingly inexhaustible natural resources of the country's territory via industrialization, collectivization, forced migration and a vast system of prison camps and internal exile. While the Soviet regime promised mastery over nature, and Russian culture valorized the harmonization of humans with the natural world, environmental catastrophe, both sudden and cumulative, proved the folly of those dreams. Though the Soviet narrative of unflagging progress towards an industrialized utopia rendered these follies unmentionable, imaginative literature provides an indelible record of their costs. We will read works by authors who have grappled with this ongoing catastrophe and its implications for relations between human beings and the world. How might the cultural legacies of communism reframe some of the most vital questions for our shared planetary future? We will examine the ecological thinking of writers and filmmakers including Anton Chekhov, Vladimir Vernadsky, Andrey Platonov, Valentin Rasputin, Larisa Shepitko, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Svetlana Alexievich. (LT)
REES 27035/37035/GNSE 20118 Gender, Agency, and Power in 19th C Russian Literature (Anne Moss) When members of Pussy Riot performed their "Punk Prayer" at the Cathedral of Christ Our Savior in Moscow in 2011, heads covered with neon balaclavas, it was as much the scandal of their female bodies in front of the iconostasis as the words of their song that constituted their protest against state and church. This course focuses on similarly scandalous provocations and quieter acts of resistance against normative gender expectations in 19th-century Russian literature. We read narratives of rebellion by individuals and collective actions by groups of women, and consider the surprising agency attributed to women's cooperative work in Russian literature as well as the heavy burdens placed on women by family, state, and church. Readings include primarily short fiction in a variety of genres (sentimental, romantic, realist, and gothic) by canonized male writers and by women writers of the 19th C who are less often taught and translated, but were widely read in their own day. These works expand our understanding of the narrative possibilities for sexuality and gendered subjectivity in the Russian literary sphere, and of the ways in which possibility itself was made and remade by literary expression. The course also introduces students to methods of literary analysis informed by critical theories of gender, and asks how Russian literary and cultural history may offer new ways of thinking about gendered bodies, performance, and interrelations in the 19th C and today. (LC, LT)
SCTH 20678/RLST 25678 Narratives of the End of Faith (Matthew Messerschmidt) There seems to be consensus around the notion that the loss of religious faith is one of the defining features of modern society. What does this mean for human life going forward, however? Is what Nietzsche called the "death of God" a catastrophe, or an opportunity? Or is it an event that only seems revolutionary, which in fact masks a deep social continuity? In this course, we will examine some of the various responses to these questions in the 19th and 20th century, from Karl Marx and Max Weber, through Nietzsche and Heidegger, to "death of God theology." A guiding thread throughout the course will be the relationship of secularization to freedom. Along the way we will reflect on the meaning of "modernity" and "postmodernity." (LT)
SCTH 36017 Literary Biography: A Workshop (Rosanna Warren) We will study four major literary biographies: Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857), Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians (1918), Walter Jackson Bate’s John Keats (1964), and Hermione Lee’s Virginia Woolf (1996). While analyzing the arts of literary biography, students will compose a biographical sketch of their own (20 pages), using primary materials from the Special Collections in the Regenstein Library and elsewhere, as appropriate. The course combines literary criticism and creative writing. (LG-NF)
SALC 28602/48602/PERS 48602/NEHC 48602 Persian Poetry and Philology (Thibaut D'hubert) This course offers an introduction to Persian philology as it developed in South Asia during the late Mughal period. Our aim is to observe how Persian was studied as a literary idiom and how poems were read taking grammar as a point of entry. The first sessions will provide an introduction to some fundamental methods and basic terminology of Indo-Persian philology. We will read the short prefaces of two traditional grammars: Anṣārī Jaunpūrī (d. 1225/1810, Murshidabad)'s Qawāʿid-i fārsī and ʿAbd al-Wāsiʿ Hānsawī (fl. 2nd half 17th)'s Risala-yi ʿAbd al-Wāsiʿ. Then, we will look at a selection of examples to see how this grammatical knowledge was used to analyze the language of classical mathnawīs by closely reading the comments made on some verses taken from Jāmī's Yūsuf o Zulaykhā. After these introductory classes, will focus on Akbar (r. 1556-1605)'s poet laureate (malik al-shuʾarā) Faiḍī's Nal Daman. Nal Daman is a mathnawī that is part of an unfinished project of khamsa. The poem is the adaptation of a very popular story found in the Sanskrit Mahābhārata and in several South Asian vernacular versions. In class will use a 19th-c. lithographed edition of Nal Daman that contains a ḥāshiya. (LG-P, LC)
SALC 26250/46250/BANG 26250/46250/MDVL 26260/MUSI 23121/33121 Padavali: Vernacular poetics in eastern South Asia (ca. 14th-18th AD) (Thibaut D'hubert) Padavali (vernacular lyric poetry) is one of the threads that tied together the cultural region of eastern India from Tripura to Bihar, and from Assam to Odisha. In this course, we will study the making of this tradition rooted in the courtly poems of Vidyapati (ca. 1370-1460, Mithila) and follow its spread in Nepal, Assam, Bengal, and Odisha. We will discuss the very close relation between form and content in this poetic tradition that was closely connected with music. We will also study the expressive use of a complex prosodic system that was never described in the form of treatises and the many debates around the trans-regional aspects of Brajabuli as an artificial vernacular poetic idiom. Moreover, we will compare padavali literature with other premodern traditions from Medieval Europe, especially Old Occitan troubadour poetry and lyric poetry in Andalusian Arabic. This comparative approach is motivated by the many parallels one can observe between Medieval southern Europe and eastern South Asia, starting with the conscious crafting of lyric vernacular traditions in multilingual contexts against the background of classical literary cultures. (LG-P, LC)
TAPS 22680/ENGL 22680/GNSE 20116/SIGN 26080 Queering the American Family Drama (Leslie Danzig) In this course, we'll examine what happens to the American Family Drama on stage when the 'family' is queer. We will move beyond describing surface representations into an exploration of how queering the family implicates narrative, plot, character, formal conventions, aesthetics and production conditions (e.g. casting, venues, audiences, marketing and critical reception). Our texts will include theatrical plays, live and recorded productions, queer performance theory, and - where it's useful to our exploration - select examples from film and television. This course will be a combined seminar and studio, inviting students to investigate through readings, discussion, staging experiments, and a choice of either a final paper or artistic project. A background in theater is not required. (LT)