Classes

    The Essay: History and Practice

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    Matthew Arnold famously said that poetry is, at bottom, “a criticism of life.” But if any literary form is truly a criticism of life, it is the essay. And yet despite the fact that all students write essays, most students rarely study them; bookshops and libraries categorize such work only negatively, by what it is not: “non-fiction.” At the same time, the essay is at present one of the most productive and fertile of literary forms. It is practiced as memoir, reportage, diary, criticism, and sometimes all four at once. Novels are becoming more essayistic, while essays are borrowing conventions and prestige from fiction. This class will disinter the essay from its comparative academic neglect, and examine the vibrant contemporary borderland between the reported and the invented. We will study the history of the essay, from Montaigne to the present day. Rather than study that history purely chronologically, each class will group several essays from different decades and centuries around common themes: death, detail, sentiment, race, gender, photography, the city, witness, and so on.... Read more about The Essay: History and Practice

    Five Shakespeare Plays

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    We'll be reading HamletKing LearThe Merchant of Venice, Henry V, and The Tempest.  Special attention to dramatically motivating issues involving familial kinship, racial and linguistic difference, and national and religious conflict.   Philosophical and historical issues include Shakespeare's unique use of language, the ambiguous authorship of the plays, gender issues informing stage production, the sense of place in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and the influence of the Shakespearean canon  in the various arts and media.... Read more about Five Shakespeare Plays

    Tattoo: Histories and Practices

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    This course’s focus is on the social history of tattooing in Europe and North America from the mid-18th century to the present. The course also considers tattoo practices in Asian, Polynesian, and indigenous North America cultures. In addition to their own intrinsic interest, these practices and their histories are essential to a critical understanding of the development of tattooing within globalized modern and post-modern culture.... Read more about Tattoo: Histories and Practices

    Queer Latinx Borderlands

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    What does Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny have to do with 16th century Mexico criminal archives? What does the Netflix series Pose (2018) have to do with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848)? They converge in the queer borderlands, Chicana lesbian Gloria Anzaldúa’s spatial framework. Just as border studies has taught us that such encounters and crossroads exist far beyond literal borders, so too does this course delink from any geographical space, instead deploying Anzaldúa’s framework to provide an account for two major arcs while centering gender and sexual non/normativity.... Read more about Queer Latinx Borderlands

    Sound and Color: Music, Race, and US Cultural Politics

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    Although race is often presumed to be a visual phenomenon, it is also created and produced through sound. But what does race sound like? What might we learn when we attune our ears to the music and noise that race makes in popular music, on the stage, and in literature? How can texts like songs, films, and novels both reinforce and challenge cultural hierarchies and arrangements of social power? This course explores the sonification of race and the racialization of sound, music, and noise in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present.... Read more about Sound and Color: Music, Race, and US Cultural Politics

    American Noir

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021
    This class will examine noir not only as an aesthetic—brutality disguised in beauty—but also as a social commentary on American life in the 1940s and 50s. How did cultural conceptions of the tough guy and femme fatale reflect or shape the gender and sexual politics of the era? How did noir speak to anxieties surrounding race, ethnicity, and social class? And how did America’s anti-heroes reflect a changing conception of nationhood and citizenship in the atomic age? By looking at cultural works like films, novels, and true crime pieces in the context of postwar psychology and sociology, we will consider what audiences’ fascination with violence, murder, and deceit revealed about the American identity.... Read more about American Noir