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ENG 393

Literature and Culture: Advanced Topics

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.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Fall Semester information

Karin Wimbley

393A: LitCulture&Hist:AdvTps:(re)Imagining Black Masculinities

What is masculinity? How does this definition change when intersected by race, sexuality, and/or class? What does the term "black masculinity" mean and how is it imagined in American culture? First, working from the presupposition that there are multiple ways of inhabiting black masculinities, this 300-level course examines literary, cinematic, and visual representations of black maleness by critically reading how categories of difference and identity have been inscribed onto the black male body. Specifically, we will consider how these representations respond to and interact with mainstream America's understanding of race and gender. Second, we will investigate how African American writers, dramatists, filmmakers, and visual artists employ aesthetics as a form of radical black politics. Thirdly, we will explore how black masculinity plays out in black cultural production, state-sanctioned violence, and movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and #TakeAKnee.

Students will learn how to close read film, literature, and visual culture by using the appropriate critical vocabulary and effectively communicate observations, syntheses, and analyses in the form of critical response papers, argumentative essays, presentations, a final paper project, and class discussions. Course texts include works by W. E. B. DuBois, Stuart Hall, Kendrick Lamar, Amiri Baraka, Mychal Denzel Smith, Dave Chappelle, and Kehinde Wiley. Film and television include Berry Jenkins' Moonlight, Donald Glover's Atlanta, Ava DuVernay's 13th, and Melvin Van Peebles' Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, to name a few.

PLEASE NOTE: This course is cross-listed with English, Africana Studies, Film Studies, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.


Spring Semester information

Deborah Geis

393A: LitCulture&Hist:AdvTps: Soul Food: African-American Culinary Literature

There is an extensive and fascinating history connected to African American traditions of cooking and eating, and discussions of racism, power relations, gender, and class all emerge as part of our investigation of that history. Many African American writers in the genres of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, film, and drama have used tropes related to cooking and eating in their work, and this course aspires to bring those writers together. We will read works by such authors as Ntozake Shange, Suzan-Lori Parks, Jeff Henderson, Marcus Samuelsson, and a variety of others, including filmmakers and performance poets. Since this is an "S" course, students will be expected to participate actively in discussion and to give a variety of oral presentations.


Nicole Lobdell

393B: LitCulture&Hist:AdvTps: Daring, Wild, Visionary: The Global Romantics

The Romantic period (1785-1832) may be the shortest of Britain's literary periods, but it is also the most complex. As the British Empire expanded rapidly from a hemispheric to a global empire, writers within this period were confronted with an increasing awareness of "the global." Enchanted, frightened, and inspired, Romantic writers explored the effects of globalization through such topics as travel and exploration, foreign culture and customs, foreign wars, political revolutions, and the transatlantic slave trade. In this course, we will explore these topics through the works of global Romantic writers, including writers living in England (Byron, Barbauld, Hemans, Shelley, Wordsworth) and writers at large in the British Empire in Africa, the Caribbean, India, and the Middle East. We will examine how globalization brought with it a shifting sense of what "home" and "abroad" signified. We will also discuss how contact with people in distant lands, such as China and Peru, was imagined and represented by British writers, some of whom never actually traveled outside of England. While our primary readings will be Romantic poetry and nonfiction prose (letters, travel diaries, articles), we will also read critical writings to help us define important terms including Orientalism, Romanticism, and Transatlantic. This course will appeal to students interested not only in British literature but also world literature, as well as students curious about the relationship between literature and world politics.