Winter 2010

Joseph Bauerkemper

“American Literature, 1832 to 1865”
Department of English
A survey of American literature from the Jacksonian era to end of the U.S. Civil War, this course also offers a sustained critical consideration of the nation-based study of literary and intellectual histories. The course will thus begin by asking and attempting to address a handful of seemingly simple questions. These include: Why does this course exist? What is American literature, anyway? (What “counts” as American literature? And who’s counting?) How is American literature distinct from “non-American” literatures? What are the historical, political, social, and cultural genealogies of this distinction? What are the relationships between American literature and inter- and transnational issues and events? Are national framings (ever) appropriate for the intellectual work of literary and cultural studies? In approaching these and other questions, this course will engage with interpretations that see this period as an “American Renaissance” during which literary artists fundamentally contributed to the development, affirmation, and consolidation of an American (U.S.) national identity. Readings will include Frederick Douglass’ Narrative, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, John Rollin Ridge’s Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and selections from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.

Greg Cohen

“New Cinemas in the Latin American Sixties: Aesthetics and Politics at the Limits of the Modern”
Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media
This graduate seminar shall introduce students to some of the defining works of independent cinema produced in Latin America during the 1960s and early 1970s, many of them esteemed to this day as among the most important works of the many “new waves” to emerge globally in the wake of the Second World War. Yet, because the cultural politics of Latin America at the time have largely overdetermined both the films we study from this period and the critical methods we use to study them, this course will also attempt to expand and nuance our approach to Latin America’s new waves, at the same time that we explore the margins and blind spots of the Latin American film canon. Hence, our analyses will both account for and move beyond predominant critical paradigms like “The New Latin American Cinema” and “Third Cinema,” and treat not only political-modernist works but exploitation films and experimental and underground cinema as well.

Jeannine Murray-Román

“The Hyperglossia of Oscar Wao-Caribbean history, theory, and literature.”
Department of Comparative Literature
“The Hyperglossia of Oscar Wao” uses Junot Díaz’s novel as an entryway into exploring comparative Caribbean literature. In order to understand the many influences and languages that mark Junot Díaz’s recent novel, we will situate the novel within theoretical and contextual approaches by reading Nietzsche’s theories of repetition, Glissant on the Caribbean meta-archipelago, and historiographies of the Dominican Republic’s “Trujillato” alongside The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. We will then use the literary references mobilized throughout the novel to explore a multi-lingual cross-section of Caribbean literature that includes such authors as Edwidge Danticat, Derek Walcott, and Patrick Chamoiseau. As such, this course uses Díaz’s novel as a point of departure for exploring the contemporary Caribbean and American literature. Readings will include, among others, Junot Díaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Alan Moore’s graphic novel The Watchmen, Patrick Chamoiseau’s Texaco, and excerpts from Nietzsche, Deleuze, and Glissant. Assignments will include a class presentation, one short literary analysis, and one research paper.