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    English 162bb. Broadway Bodies, or Representation of the Great White Way

    Instructor: Derek Miller
    Tuesday & Thursday, 10:30-11:45 am | Location: TBA

    To many of its fans, Hamilton poses a problem. How can a show that presents so many talented artists of color represent a white-washed American history? And how should we evaluate the show’s impact when sky-high ticket prices make it accessible primarily to a wealthy (read: white) audience? In its aspirational embrace of a multi-ethnic America and its failure fully to realize that promise, Hamiltonembodies the paradox of Broadway. This course examines that paradox since World War II, particularly as it pertains to multiple aspects of identity including race, gender, sexuality, and disability. We will examine how shows such as South Pacific, with its famous anti-racist anthem, or M. Butterfly, which explored the intersections of Orientalism, gender, and sex, temper their inclusive representations to appeal to wide commercial audience. Broadway is a particularly fertile ground for exploring these issues because theatrical performances always call attention to the performative nature of subjectivity: that is, who you are is a product of what you do. As we shall see, though, theatrical performatives risk being “infelicitous,” in the words of philosopher J.L. Austin: instead of affirming the subjects they represent, the performances can turn those subjects into mere theater. Our starting assumption is that many Broadway stake-holders genuinely desire broader representation in and for their work, but that the structure of the industry constrains how these shows challenge the status quo. To understand those constraints we will ask what stories Broadway tells, who sees them, and how they are marketed—while always attuned to “who tells your story.”

    English 177am. American Horrors

    Instructor: Ju Yon Kim
    Tuesday & Thursday, 1:30-2:45pm | Location: TBA

    This course will examine horror—defined expansively to include the uncanny, the abject, the monstrous, and the ghostly—in American literature, considering its formal and aesthetic implications and its relationship to major cultural and social issues. What are the methods and theories that critics have used to study horror in literature? How and to what effect have works of American literature used horror to reflect on contemporary social concerns or to depict historical events? We will explore a range of literary works from the nineteenth century to the present next to critical and theoretical studies of horror and the Gothic.

    Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Migrations" requirement for the Class of 2022 and was formerly offered as English 60a. Migrations: American Horrors.

    English 178x. The American Novel: Dreiser to the Present

    Instructor: Philip Fisher
    Monday & Wednesday, 10:30-11:45am | Location: TBA

    A survey of the 20th-century novel, its forms, patterns of ideas, techniques, cultural context, rivalry with film and radio, short story, and fact.  Wharton, Age of Innocence; Cather, My Antonia; Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms and stories; Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury and stories;  Ellison, Invisible Man; Nabokov, Lolita; Robinson, Housekeeping; Salinger, Catcher in the Rye and stories; Ha Jin, Waiting; Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station. Stories by James, London, Anderson, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Gaitskill, Wallace, Beattie, Lahiri, and Ford.

    English 90b. James / Baldwin

    Instructor: Jesse McCarthy
    Monday, 9:45-11:45am | Location: TBA
    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. 

    English 176tm. Toni Morrison

    Instructor: Namwali Serpell
    Monday & Wednesday, 1:30-2:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website

    This course is a survey of the work of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison from 1970 to 2012, including most of her novels, a few nonfiction essays, a short story, and a play. We will consider her literary antecedents; follow her influence on contemporaries and future writers; trace the social, historical, and political contexts and implications of her work; and explore the critical interventions she made in historiography and literary criticism. Throughout, we will focus on Morrison’s rich and complex aesthetic project: how it came into being; how it resonates with a great range of philosophical questions from epistemology to ethics; and how it changed over time.

    English 181a. Introduction to Asian American Literature: What Is Asian American Literature?

    Instructor: Ju Yon Kim
    Tuesday & Thursday, 12:00-1:15pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website

    Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers (1974) was one of the earliest attempts to collect writings that were, to quote the editors, “exclusively Asian-American.” Yet as their lengthy—and controversial—explanation of the selection process makes clear, Asian American literature defies neat categorization. This course is both a survey of Asian American literature and an introduction to ongoing debates about what constitutes Asian American literature. We will study a variety of literary genres and ask how formal and stylistic conventions, as well as shifting sociohistorical circumstances, have shaped conceptions of Asian American literature.

    Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Migrations" requirement for the Class of 2022.

    English 90hp. Harvard and the Puritans in Native America

    Instructor: Alan Niles
    Wednesday, 9:45-11:45am | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 15

    Harvard’s still governing 1650 charter states the institution’s mission is “the education of English and Indian youth.” What were the ideas about race, culture, and colonialism that made such an idea possible? What was life like for the early Native American students who studied at Harvard, and what happened to the founding idea of a multiracial intellectual space in Harvard Yard over time? This course studies the Harvard Indian College and early Harvard history in the context of broader relationships between New England colonists and Dawnlands Native peoples. We will focus in detail on the surviving early writings of Caleb Cheeshateamuck, Benjamin Larnell, and Eleazar alongside colonial writings by John Winthrop, John Cotton, Anne Bradstreet, and others. We will learn about the catastrophic violence of King Philip’s War and the ways that conflict changed ideas about race and community in the seventeenth century. We will learn about Harvard’s continuing role throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in organizing relations with New England Indian communities, and the forms, genres, and rhetorics Indian activists and protesters developed in response. Throughout our course, we will bring Native American voices from Massachusetts, Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and other communities to the fore, in the past and in the present day.

    Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Migrations" requirement for the Class of 2022.

    Freshman Seminar 64h. Our Borders, Our Lives: Creating, Dismantling, Rebuilding Borders through Art, Literature, and Film

    Instructor: Katie Daily
    Wednesday, 9:45-11:45am | Location: TBA
    Course Website​​​​​​​
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    We are surrounded by borders, and to understand them is to explore how they’re drawn, why they’re constructed (and deconstructed), and who can pass through them. This seminar will invite you to open up our ordinary understanding of borders to discover an extraordinary variety of perspectives and media.

    This semester, we will think deeply and critically about borders and movement in order to better understand our individual positions as global citizens. We’ll consider borders in our personal lives through social media and how people curate their online worlds. We will briefly study maps so that you can construct your own, considering your own borders. We’ll visit a Harvard museum to discover how frames are both constraining and liberating. We’ll examine fiction and film, attuning to the conditions of border migration and how people move. We’ll sightsee in our lives and the spaces around us to begin understanding borders and movement in twenty-first century America. Through all of this exploration, we will discover the many lenses that can be used in order to grapple with the complicated nature of American borders while working to understand our own positionality in the world around us.