Spring Term

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1. Creative Writing Workshops
2. Common Ground Courses
3. Undergraduate Seminars
English 90B. James / Baldwin
Instructor: Jesse McCarthy
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Thursdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 3-5 pm.
Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

At first glance Henry James and James Baldwin may seem worlds apart. Yet these two enormously influential writers share much in common. Both are New Yorkers; both spent a good deal of their lives as expatriates; both are celebrated for their queerness, a feature of their style as much as their sexuality. Both were serious, moralizing, and passionate observers of the ‘American Scene’; both writers are deeply committed to investigating and exploring the privacy of consciousness and the currency of experience. Henry James was James Baldwin’s favorite writer. Colm Tóibín has called Baldwin, “the Henry James of Harlem.” What attracted Baldwin to James across their vast racial and class differences? What lessons about the art of fiction can we learn by reading each in the light of the other? Not only the Jamesian influence on Baldwin—but what Baldwin allows us to see might be missing or muted in James. We will think very closely about the subject that deeply occupied both of them: America. And what America means from perspectives acquired from outside of America, looking back in. We will also investigate the expression and communication of sexuality, gender, race, class, money, politics and taste alongside assorted criticism, reviews, and other essays of interest.

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English 90ES. The Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath
Instructor: Peter Sacks
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Wednesdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 3-5 pm.
Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

This seminar studies in detail the poetry and prose of two of the most significant American poets of the mid- to late Twentieth Century, Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath. While the intention will be to gain some general knowledge of lyric poetry, readings will focus closely on the works of these two quite different poets. We shall examine their entire poetic oeuvres while also reading selections of their prose writings (fiction, letters). Issues of self-presentation, expatriation, loss, vocation, memory, gender and sexuality, as well as techniques of description and expression –these will recur throughout the readings. Other poets may be added for context. While acknowledging the differences between the principal poets (for example the oblique self-portraiture of Bishop as opposed to the more direct “confessional” style of Plath), we shall also seek common motifs both in their situations as writers and in their achieved poems.

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English 90FM. Paradigms of American Freedom in 20th Century African American Literature
Instructor: Patricia Chu
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Tuesdays, 9:45-11:45 am | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

In this course our focus will be on how the social, political and material meanings of race and autonomy in America have been creatively represented by African American authors between (approximately) 1900 and 2000. As we move through the century, we will attend to the changing aesthetic and political environments in which new generations of authors found themselves.  Texts for this class grapple both with what gaining “freedom” should mean and with what the African American writer might (or might not) have a duty to contribute towards this goal. Primary authors may include: Charles Chesnutt, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Chester Himes, James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, Assata Shakur, Jesmyn Ward, Kiese Laymon.

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English 90LG. Introduction to LGBTQ Literature
Instructor: Stephanie Burt
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Wednesdays, 9:45-11:45 am | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

This seminar looks at the expanding range of genres, forms and strategies pursued by modern and contemporary authors who want to represent LGBTQ+- lives, communities, bodies and selves; poems and performances, novels and stories, YA and SFF books, memoirs and essays, comics and graphic novels, will all be represented, along with a light frame of what’s usually called queer theory and some points of comparison, or contrast, from earlier centuries. Bechdel, Audre Lorde, O’Hara, Russ, Sedgwick, White, Whitman and many others.

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4. Undergraduate Tutorials
5. Lectures with Sections
AAAS 100Y. Introduction to Black Poetry
Instructor: Jesse McCarthy

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:30-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

When we speak of a tradition of black poetry what do we mean? How did those who made this literature think of their own practice, relate to each other, and to their audiences? How has black poetic practice evolved and responded to different social, cultural, and political crises? This course will introduce important figures in this tradition, and the debates that have dominated its production, reception and practice, as well as its relations to other cultural forms, including popular music, performance, dance, film and the visual arts. We will read a selection of some of the most significant works in their historical context, covering a broad sweep from the 18thcentury to the present day touching on major movements including the Harlem and Chicago Renaissance, négritude, The Black Arts Movement, Black Feminism, and the Dark Room Collective. Authors include Phillis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Una Marson, Robert Hayden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Aimé Césaire, Nicolás Guillén, Amiri Baraka, Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Derek Walcott, Harryette Mullen, Nathaniel Mackey, Rita Dove, Jericho Brown, Tracy K. Smith, Ed Roberson, Claudia Rankine, Terrance Hayes, M. NourbeSe Philip, Fred Moten, and Kevin Young.

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AAAS 130X. Richard Wright: Literature, Philosophy, and Politics
Instructor: Glenda Carpio

Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

This course examines the major fiction and nonfiction works of Richard Wright from a literary, philosophical, and political perspective. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to this wide-ranging and canonical American author, contextualizing him within the broader tradition of black letters. Readings include but are not limited to Uncle Tom’s Children, Native Son, Black Boy, American Hunger, 12 Million Black Voices, The Outsider, Black Power, The Color Curtain, White Man Listen!, and Eight Men. The course also explores major influences in Wright’s development including the work of Marx, Sartre, and Freud.

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English 175D. The Rhetoric of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
Instructor: John Stauffer
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Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:30-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

A critical examination of Douglass’ and Lincoln’s speeches and other exemplary writings from Lincoln’s 1838 Lyceum Address to Douglass’s 1894 “Lessons of the Hour.” We explore Douglass’ and Lincoln’s respective rhetorical practices in relation to their politics.

Note: Formerly English 90FD

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English 176FR. On the Run: Fugitives and Refugees in American Literature
Instructor: Thomas Dichter
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Mondays & Wednesdays, 3-4:15 pm | Location: TBA

Escaped slaves, refugees, outlaws, and rebels are all on the run in the pages of American literature. In a nation founded in the name of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” stories of the fugitive making a break for freedom have been both troubling and enchanting. In this course, we will examine narratives of flight by American writers from the early days of the Republic through the present. These authors explore many different kinds of fugitivity: from the story of Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who hid in a crate and mailed himself to freedom in the North, to recent fiction by Edwidge Danticat and Viet Thanh Nguyen. Along the way, we’ll consider narratives of outlaws, war refugees, undocumented immigrants, and insurrectionaries. Engaging with a diverse range of authors, our texts will include autobiography, novels, poetry, and folklore.

 

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US-World 34. The Civil War from Nat Turner to Birth of a Nation
Instructor: John Stauffer

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12-1:15 pm | Location: TBA

This interdisciplinary course reframes traditional understandings of the Civil War in three ways. First, by showing that civil conflict in the United States began well before 1861 and ended well after 1865, taking the form of slave uprisings and Klan terrorism, as well as conventional war. Second, by showing that the former Confederacy won this longer Civil War by establishing a new order of black unfreedom. And third, by placing this war in the context of international politics and trade. “Readings” range from fiction, film, letters, and speeches to poetry, pamphlets, prints and photographs, songs, and history.

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6. Graduate Seminars
7. Cross-Listed in other Departments
8. Freshman Seminars