Spring Term

Course Information

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1. Creative Writing Workshops
2. Common Ground Courses
3. Undergraduate Seminars
English 90fd. The Rhetoric of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
Instructor: John Stauffer

Tuesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 024

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

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.

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4. Undergraduate Tutorials
5. Lectures with Sections
English 145a. Jane Austen’s Fiction and Fans
Instructor: Deidre Shauna Lynch

Mondays & Wednesdays, 1-2 pm | Location: Sever 103

In this class we’ll read at least five of Austen’s novels and study the contribution they made to the remaking of modern fiction.  Though our emphasis will fall on these works’ place in the literary culture of Austen’s day and on their historical contexts in an era of revolution, we’ll also acknowledge the strong and ardent feelings that Austen’s oeuvre continues to arouse today.  To that end, we’ll do some investigating of the frequently wild world of contemporary Austen fandom and the Austenian tourism, shopping, adaptations, and sequels that nurture it.  At the same time, we’ll remember that Austen knew fandom from both sides; part of our work will be to learn about the early-nineteenth-century culture of literary appreciation in which Austen enrolled the heroines of her novels and enrolled herself.

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English 176fr. On the Run: Fugitives and Refugees in American Literature

Instructor: Thomas Dichter

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12-1 | Location: Barker 024

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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English 181aa. Asian American Literature: Asian American Action
Instructor: Patricia Chu

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12-1 | Location: Sever 106

This interdisciplinary course will examine Asian American literature and film alongside political and historical readings about how Asian Americans have taken action as artists, activists, workers, politicians, criminals, etc. We will consider issues including: gender and sexuality, immigration history/American Dream, ethnic and class conflicts within Asian America, the problem of “authenticity,” the effects of America’s wars in Asia, the particular stereotypes associated with Asian Americans, and Asian American positions in relation to other American minorities. Text modes and genres will range widely and may include: comedy, anger, sentiment, nostalgia, and commitment in novels, social theory, poetry, legal studies, journalism, personal narrative, film. Authors may include Vijay Prashad, Rey Chow, Maxine Hong Kingston, Susan Choi, Lela Lee, Ruth Ozeki, John Okada, Chang-rae Lee, Le Thi DiemThuy, Sunil Yapa, Milton Murayama, Miné Okubo.

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English 197gr. Gender and Representation
Instructor: Glenda Carpio

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11-12 pm | Location: Harvard Hall 102

Margaret Atwood is often asked if the The Handmaid’s Tale is a “feminist” novel. Her response: “If you mean an ideological tract in which all women are angels and/or so victimized they are incapable of moral choice, no. If you mean a novel in which women are human beings — with all the variety of character and behavior that implies — and are also interesting and important, and what happens to them is crucial to the theme, structure and plot of the book, then yes. In that sense, many books are ‘feminist.’” This course focuses on such feminist books. It explores issues of perspective: what happens when an author writes from the perspective of a woman? Since taking this perspective does not depend on biology, we will explore authors from a variety of backgrounds, especially those whose class, race, and/or ethnicity add another dimension. We’ll focus on contemporary Anglophone novels and drama.

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6. Graduate Seminars
7. Cross-Listed in other Departments
AAAS 10. Introduction to African American Studies
Instructor: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Mondays & Wednesdays, 11 am-12 pm | Location: CGIS South S010

An exploration of some of the key texts and issues in African American Studies from a range of disciplinary perspectives. Members of the faculty deliver guest lectures in their own areas of specialization.

Note: This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for United States in the World.

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History & Literature 90de. After Affirmative Action: Race, Justice, and Inequality in America since the 1990s
Instructor: Patricia Chu

Thursdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Sever 201

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

In this course our exploration surrounds four contemporary novels by African American and Asian American authors with the theory and history of the new political, economic and social context these authors were confronting while writing political literature. We examine the roots of changes in American racial politics while also studying how minority artists urgently seek new ways to represent injustice and imagine new strategies of fighting it.  We will discuss the juridical, administrative and cultural repudiation of civil rights-era understandings of and remedies for racial inequality that form the backdrop of these novels. Many of these trends began to take hold in the 1990s. Affirmative action was replaced by “diversity.” “Reverse discrimination” lawsuits were on the rise and turned white people into victims of racial remedies, making Proposition 187 and Proposition 209 possible. White identity politics was reconfigured to make it acceptable in the mainstream. The war on poverty became the war on drugs, and thus a war on poor communities and families. Public education was resegregated and privatized, and the school to prison pipeline was established. Criminal law and immigration law, once firmly separated, converged. Homeland Security took priority over civil rights. “Value” could only mean monetary value, and justice had to make financial sense rather than moral sense. The post-Katrina era is one in which these trends created the conditions for first, the racist emergency response launched in the immediate wake of the storm and second, the less-publicized but even more consequential “restructuring” of the region along lines of race, class and corporate profit. Our work in this course, guided by historians, legal scholars, creative writers, and political theorists, is to understand both how we got here and how we might imagine and engender a new destination.

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

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12-1 pm | Location: Art Museums Menschel Hall

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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8. Freshman Seminars