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Rebecca L. Walkowitz
Fall 2011
Picasso L & S Honors 252:01: What Is Sophistication?, an undergraduate honors seminar, introduces students to historical and contemporary debates about “sophistication,” “civilization,” and “culture” through intensive analysis of exemplary literary texts alongside significant works of psychology, anthropology, history, sociology, philosophy, literary criticism, and literary theory. Questions we'll consider: What is the difference between knowing and being “in the know”? Is sophistication at odds with democracy? Or, is it the capacity to participate in a diverse social environment? Is sophistication a strategy of the strong? Or, is it a tactic of the weak? Principal texts will include works of drama, fiction, and film by William Shakespeare, Aphra Behn, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael Cunningham, and Michael Almereyda. Critical and theoretical reading will include essays by Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Virginia Woolf, Raymond Williams,Anthony Appiah, Michel de Certeau, Michel Foucault, Theodor Adorno, Barbara Johnson,and D. A. Miller.

Spring 2012
Picasso The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature, a graduate seminar, approaches the contemporary Anglophone novel through the problem of world literature. We will read a selection of major statements about the field of world literature and ask how the new focus on circulation, translation, comparison, and multilingualism alters our approach to English-language fiction (and some fiction from other languages) since 1990. We'll organize our conversations around this principal question: What are the literary forms of global or planetary fiction? That is, how has the aspiration to world literature changed the style and structure, as well as the physical shape, of literature today? So that we can consider strategies across different books by a single writer as well as across books by different writers, we'll read three novels by David Mitchell and two by J. M. Coetzee. We'll also read novels or stories by Roberto Bolaño, Kiran Desai, Jamaica Kincaid, Caryl Phillips, W.G. Sebald, and Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries.
Past and Future Courses:
Picasso English 353:389: Critical and Uncritical Reading, an undergraduate course, introduces students to the history and theory of critical and uncritical reading. Our texts will include exemplary works of literary criticism and theory as well as novels, short stories, poetry, manifestos, and a film. Topics will include the genealogy of critique and the idea of “the critical”; texts and paratexts; psychoanalysis and deconstruction; biographical reading; evasion and the unwillingness to read; reading with and against the grain; the geography of reading; the history of the book; and the ethics and politics of translation.
Picasso English 350:594: Modernism, Translation, and the New World Literature, a graduate seminar, explores literary and critical texts that take as their principal concern the relationship between modernity and transnationalism. We will discuss recent efforts to determine when and where Anglophone modernism is located, and we will ask how paradigms of modernism are transformed by the inclusion of literary texts that originate beyond Europe and the U.S.
Picasso English 350:393: Violence and Creativity in the Twentieth Century, an undergraduate lecture course, explores the relationship between violence and creativity in twentieth-century fiction. Some writers argue that creativity is stifled by violence; some argue that creativity resists violence; some argue that violence spurs creativity, that creativity requires violence, or that violence is one of the forms that creativity can take. We will examine all of these positions and others as they are explored by writers including Joyce, Woolf, Forster, Burgess, Barker, Ishiguro, and Rushdie.
Picasso 350:437:01: Vernacular Fictions: Joyce and After, an advanced undergraduate course, introduces students to major works of modernist fiction, including Ulysses, and to theories of explicitness and everyday life. We will focus on several practices of "vernacular fiction" in twentieth-century narrative: the vernacular of spoken idiom and dialect; the vernacular of popular culture; the vernacular of explicit sexuality and unflinching description; the vernacular of multiculturalism and micronational identities.

Picasso English 350:590: The Postwar British Novel from Lamming to Sebald, a graduate seminar, examines the British after 1945 in the context of transnational methodologies and paradigms. We will aim to assess whether the category of “British novel” makes sense in this period, taking as our examples novels that have been assigned to various micronational identities (English, Scottish, Welsh, Black British, Anglo-Jewish, and so on) as well as those assigned to global or transnational origin. We'll read relevant works of criticism to help us in this endeavor. By starting with the Caribbean-British novelist George Lamming and ending with the German-British novelist W.G. Sebald, both of whom authored influential books called The Emigrants , we'll consider the centrality of migration, multilingualism, devolution, and globalization in the development of post-war British writing. Additional reading will include the following: Spark, Greene, Naipaul, Rushdie, McEwan, Lessing, Ho Davies, Ishiguro, LeCarre, Orwell, and Brookner.




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