A study of the relations between literature and culture, with a specific thematic focus. Examples include Literature and Law, American Gothic, and Drugs, Literature and Culturet.
Fall Semester informationDavid Alvarez
393A: Tps: The Formation of Religious Tolerance in the English Enlightenment: Literature, Affect, Politics
High-octane and for high stakes, this course tackles one of today's most urgent issues. Readings in philosophy and literature from both contemporary and eighteenth-century writers will introduce students to the main ways of thinking about and justifying religious tolerance in the West. Our rhetorically alert close readings of these texts, however, will empower us to illuminate the background conditions--the taken-for-granted framework of beliefs and passions--that stand behind and enable our approach to religious tolerance, allowing us to rethink its formation, politics, and limits. Thinkers include John Locke, Jurgen Habermas, Mary Astell, Alexander Pope, Charles Taylor, Shaftesbury, Daniel Defoe, Rainer Forst, Jonathan Swift, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Joseph Addison, and others.
393B: Tps:Literature and Culture of the Beat Generation
The "Beat Generation" marks a literary and cultural period from the early fifties to the mid-sixties in which rebellion against mainstream American postwar family values was beginning to surface. This course looks at the literature of this era in its cultural and political contexts, and examines the impact upon subsequent writers and artists. Some of the authors we'll cover will include Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso; African-American Beat writers LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) and Bob Kaufman; rebel women Diane DiPrima, Anne Waldman, and Hettie Jones. We will also see some Beat-era films (and representations of "beatniks" in the popular culture of the period) and hear some Beat-era music. Since this is also an "S" course, students will be expected to participate very actively in presentations, performances, and discussions.
Spring Semester informationAmity Reading
393A: LitCulture&Hist:AdvTps: Medievalism and Neo-Medievalism
This course explores the tension between the representation of historical medieval ideologies (medievalism) and the work of 'the medieval' in the modern imagination (neo-medievalism). We will examine an even mix of well-known medieval texts (Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, various instances of Arthuriana) and modern neo-medieval materials (Game of Thrones, Vikings, several Beowulf films, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the fantasy space of Renaissance faires) in an effort to answer the following questions: what relationship is there between the historical period known as 'The Middle Ages' and our representation of it? What do we project back onto the period, and for what reasons? How do we explore issues of gender and sexuality within the neo-medieval movement? What is it about the modern moment that has given rise to an increased interest in 'the medieval'?