This course explores how ideas and discourses about race shape how public policy is debated, adopted and implemented. Black social movements and geopolitical considerations prompted multiple public policy responses to racial discrimination throughout the twentieth century. Despite these policy responses, discrimination persists, raising theoretical concerns about the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, political representation, the role of the state (meaning government or law) in promoting social justice, and the role of social movements and civil society in democratizing policymaking and addressing group oppression.
This course explores the evolution of Black literature and literary culture from the mid-18th century to the early 20th. Moving across a range of genres - from poetry to drama to fiction - and mediums - from the periodical to the bound novel - we will interrogate the relationship between literary form, aesthetics, and cultural politics, while developing a deep understanding of the emergence of an African American literary tradition.
This course surveys critical themes in the interdisciplinary field of Asian American studies, including perspectives from history, literature, sociology, and gender and sexuality studies. It develops an account of Asian racialization beyond the black-white binary in the context of US war and empire in Asia and the Pacific Islands, settler colonialism, globalization, migration, and popular culture. Who or what is an "Asian American"? How have conceptions of Asian America changed over time? How do cultural forms such as literature and film add to an understanding of Asian American identity as a historically dynamic process and social relation?
Why is film and TV so haunted - by ghosts, vampires, zombies, uncanny robots, and even screens themselves? Moving images evoked haunting since their invention in the 18th century. An inherently Gothic medium, film developed in tandem with Gothic literature, haunting the 21st century with the nightmares of the 18th. Why do they keep coming back? In the standard ghost story, something important has been lost or something left undone. What is the buried legacy or the cultural work unfinished that the 18th century Gothic mode keeps returning to perform? This is the question we will strive to answer by analyzing narratives in visual media.
Open to undergraduate and grad. students, this course investigates poetry and prose writings on poetry by major poets writing in 16th-19th cent. English, Spanish, and German, alongside critical texts on poetics. (Foreign language knowledge desired but not required.). Brief practica on the mechanics of poetics (meters, rhyme and stress patterns, and specific poetic forms) will be presented to assist us in our examination of texts. Figuration and representation, lyric syntax and experience, temporality, and materiality, are some of the critical subjects we will address. See prof. for full syllabus.
The demand to be yourself permeates many aspects of our culture. Identity has become a contemporary dogma of sorts. In this course, we will question this be-yourself mantra, and focus on what is most deeply human: attention and engagement with everything outside the self. Instead of identity, then, we will focus on impersonality, a concept explored and adopted by many artists, thinkers, and doctors to explain the point of their practice: becoming the other through fiction, observation, or empathy, and aiming towards something beyond the self's limited experience.
Since its advent in the 19th century, photography has been a privileged figure in literature's efforts to reflect upon its own modes of representation. This seminar will trace the history of the rapport between literature and photography by looking closely at a number of literary and theoretical texts that differently address questions central to both literature and photography: questions about the nature of representation, reproduction, memory and forgetting, history, images, perception, and knowledge.
Students learn to write clear and persuasive criticism in a workshop setting while becoming familiar with a variety of critical practices and research methods. The course prepares students to write the junior paper which is due in April 2023. Each seminar section will pursue its own topic: students are assigned according to choices made during sophomore sign-ins via system outlined below. Required of all English majors.
We will read influential texts in political thought and theory. We will study authors you hear a lot about but perhaps never had the opportunity to study in detail, much less in one setting: Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Benjamin, Sartre, Arendt, and Fanon. Students majoring in Politics as well as literature, philosophy, and history are welcome, as are majors in all areas of study at the university. No prior knowledge of these thinkers is required.
How does the poem Beowulf work? Who made up Beowulf, and what makes it up? We'll reply to these queries, examining the poem through its immediate manuscript context, its poetics, its performance values, its cultural and historical millieux. Topics emphasized will include the poem's analogues and afterlives, its place in race-making, its crafting of poetic space, and its troubled relationship to both deep time and our times. Tune up your harp, sharpen your wits, and get set to voice a startling and crucial poem.
The first half of Shakespeare's career, with a focus on the great comedies and histories of the 1590s, culminating in a study of Hamlet.
This course surveys literature from one of the most exhilarating and fraught periods in American history. Reading texts by Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Melville, Hawthorne, Dickinson, Fuller, Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Jacobs-and putting them in relation to political speeches, antislavery tracts, ecological materials, and indigenous texts-it explores the way in which these writers engage contemporary issues such as revolution, slavery, nationalism, agriculture, westward expansion, women's rights, democracy, and war, and in doing so, can become resources for doing political work in the present and, in particular, anti-racist work.
This class considers Jane Austen not only as the inventor of the classic novel but also as an inspiring, ceaslessly discussable author who is--thanks to a steady stream of adaptations and spinoffs--our contemporary. Pairing each novel with recent adaptations and current issues, we will discuss how Austen treats love, violence, sisterhood, sex, and power. Exploring Austen's difference as well as her modernity, we will learn as much about ourselves as about her novels.
This course will acquaint students with the distinctive features of the nineteenth century novel, from Austen to Hardy. Lectures will seek to illuminate relations between social and aesthetic dimensions of the texts we read. We will consider how these fictional imaginings of things like love, sex, money, class, and race help shape the ways we live now.
This course examines the careers of two of America's most accomplished novelists. Manifest differences aside, both authors were obsessed with the ensnaring effects of plot, prompting both to imagine fictional realms that are as much "designs" on the reader as on characters.
Epic poetry is like a blockbuster film (with war, sex, downfall, exaltation) and was considered "the best and most accomplished kind of poetry" in the Renaissance. Four-hundred years later, its greatest practitioners are rarely read. Our course aims to compensate for this neglect by immersing students in the greatest eddies of epic activity from two interrelated vantage points. First, Milton's Paradise Lost, that culmination of the entire (neo)classical epic tradition. And second, disability studies, which interrogates how certain physical and mental features (often coded as deviations from the able-bodied norm) become stigmatized.
The modern movement in English fiction from Conrad, Joyce and Woolf to Nabokov and Rushdie, writers who changed our sense of what a novel is, what it can say and how it can say it.
A study of major plays by Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekov, Pirandello, Brecht, Beckett and others. Artists who revolutionized the stage by transforming it into a venue for avant-garde social, political, psychological, artistic and metaphysical thought, creating the theatre we know today.
A study of eleven modern American writers over eighty years that emphasizes the transition from modernism to postmodernism to retro-realism.
In this course, students will think dynamically about the relationship between archival records of Black life and Black women's creative expression to interrogate the possibilities and the limits of historical archives. Through hands-on engagement with archival objects in special collections and deep readings of literature, poetry, and visual arts, we will explore what the archival record affords, erases, and silences, and, conversely, how imaginative practices can begin to address and redress its subjects and their histories.
This course explores early modern figurations of gender and sex in the literature and philosophy of Europe. We will look carefully at poetry, plays, utopian fiction, and natural philosophy from early modern England, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and the wider Atlantic world. Orienting our reading around the intersecting paradigms of faith, labor, and utopia, this course will offer us the chance to explore historical theories of gender, sex, and desire as well as consent, race, and property. We will also consider how early modern problems and assumptions inform more recent debates concerning gender and sexuality.
The Bible created and divided the world. This course explores that deep history by examining how the Bible itself was shaped: when, how, and by whom it was written; how it recorded and reworked history; how it responded to and changed politics and culture; how it gave birth to the way we read everything today. No experience with literature or the Bible is necessary. Short exercises will show how to read translations closely, and how to work with the original Hebrew and Greek versions.
A survey of Modern Irish Poetry based on the holdings of the Rare Books and Special Collections in Firestone Library. There will be readings form Carson, Heaney, Kavanagh, Kinsella, Longley, MacNeice, McGuckian, Mahon, Montague, Morrissey, Ni Chuilleanain, Ni Dhomhnaill, Sexton, and Yeats among others. Each student will make one 20 minute presentation in the course of the semester.
Between the opening of the first purpose-built London public theater in 1576 and the beginning of the English Civil War in 1642, a host of playwrights -often in collaboration- wrote for different theatrical companies and spaces, for diverse audiences, and in distinct styles and genres. To understand this period requires immersion in its performance culture as well as exposure to a wide variety of plays. This course introduces students to the early modern theatrical world, from playing companies and playhouses to actors and rehearsals through works by Marlowe, Jonson, Middleton, Webster, Cary, Beaumont, and Fletcher, among others.
This course is on the challenges of thinking and writing about refugees from Africa and the Middle East to Europe in the 21st Century. The course will range across genres and platforms - journalism, fiction, and non-fiction creative writing. A central concern are the ethical, theoretical, and aesthetic problems presented by the condition of stateless. Why is the refugee story the most compelling contemporary story? How do we write about people who have been deprived of the security of geography, history, and rights? And how can people who are defined by placelessness and invisibility be made visible without compromising their humanity?
From the spirits and banshees of oral legends to Bram Stoker's Dracula, from the classic works of Yeats, Synge and Beckett to Garth Ennis's Preacher comics and Anne Rice's Vampire novels, Irish culture has been haunted by the Otherworld. Why has the Irish Gothic had such a long ghostly afterlife on page and stage? Can we learn something about modernist works like those of Yeats and Beckett by seeing them through the perspective of popular fictions of the supernatural?
This course is a performance lab that examines speech as an aspect of fine art through the exploration of the literary canons of iconic American writer Toni Morrison and English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. Research assignments will explore writings found in the Princeton University Toni Morrison archive and Princeton University's copy of Shakespeare's first folio.
What happens when there is a dead body on stage? Why do corpses star in so many movies? Reverence for the dead is one of the markers of humanity, bound up with the development of societies and cultures. But we also play with dead bodies, spinning stories around them that can be austere or grotesque, tragic or farcical, haunting or hilarious. Dramas and films use dead bodies to explore fear, sex, greed, guilt, innocence and grief. In this course, we contemplate corpses from Antigone to Alfred Hitchcock and from Shakespeare's tragedies to Stand By Me and Weekend at Bernie's and bring the dead to life.