2016-2017 Courses

Autumn 2016

2nd year: American War Writing

The purpose of this seminar is to familiarize you with the terms and tools of the literary analysis of prose. We will be focusing on concepts such as narration, style, focalization, genre, discourse and figurative language. A second goal of this course is to introduce you to some of the issues raised by the telling of stories about war and combat and military death. The course texts will be a selection of stories and excerpts from novels and memoirs dealing with war. All the texts will be by American authors.

3rd year BA: Contemporary American Literature

The first objective of this class is to expose students to a range of recent North American fiction, with a focus on the heterogeneity of the current literary scene. In order to make sense of the diversity of texts we read, we will examine them through the critical lenses offered by concepts such as postmodernism, post postmodernism, ethnic American literature, regionalism, performativity, and gender. Secondly, we will think about the specificity of short fiction and its story-telling possibilities. This is possibly the most under-theorized genre in the prose repertoire, and so we will look at a few critical approaches to the short story.

MA: Introduction to New American Studies

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the major themes and methods of New American Studies, a theoretically-informed, comparative and socially engaged recent development within American Studies. We will examine the role of language, myth and ideology in American cultural politics, focusing on issues such as imperialism, religion, multiculturalism, feminism and race. The corpus will include films, literary texts and readings from the textbook, American Cultural Studies (available at Basta!).

Spring 2017:

MA level: Black Queer American Literature (Tuesdays 13:15-15:00)

This Master’s level class will focus on the intersection of race and gender studies in the context of queer African American fiction. Sexuality has been a particularly vexed and complex issue for African Americans, historically, and continues to be articulated in highly charged and politically fraught ways. We will look at a selection of texts by African American authors, including James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Alice Walker.

Explication de textes: Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and Other Feminist Fiction (Fridays 13:15 – 15:00)

Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening was condemned by numerous critics at the time of its publication in 1899. The work was considered scandalous, immoral, and unhealthy. It was not until the 1960’s that the novel was rediscovered and hailed as a classic of American literature. In addition to focusing on close reading, this seminar will allow us to read the novel through various theoretical interpretations, those that have contributed to the novel’s re-evaluation, such as new historicism, feminism and gender theory. The main goal of the class, however, is learning the terms and tools of literary analysis of prose, including narration, style, tone, genre and focalization. Towards the end of the semester, in order to put Chopin’s novel into context, we read some short stories by other woman writers of the turn of the century.