|T 7:30 – 10p.m||
This course examines fiction, poetry, and criticism by a series of 19th- and early 20th-century American writers who have positioned the encounter between reader and text as an act or event with unpredictable effects. The themes of this year's version of the course are pedagogy and performance. We’ll examine how literature teaches, what it teaches, how you come to believe that you've been taught something, or that you've not been taught something. With this in mind, we'll read fiction that stresses scenes of pedagogy (in and out of the class room), as well as pedagogy gone awry. We’ll also explore the related notion of texts as performative, that is, as 1) performing actions, and 2) creating a theatrical relationship, a sense of presence, between author and reader.
Our reading will include a generous amount of 20th-century theoretical writing exploring the issues of language representation, power, and cultural difference underwrite pedagogical and performative dynamics. We will focus on primary and secondary works that explore language as an action, as something that does rather than is.
Primary (19th-century) Texts (all italicized titles are at the bookstore; others will be on Blackboard)
Jefferson, “Declaration of Independence”
Thomas Jefferson-Charles Brockden Brown letters re novel-reading
Susannah Rowson, Charlotte Temple
Edgar Allan Poe, selected stories, poems, and essays. (“Philosophy of Composition”; “The Raven”; “Rue Morgue”; “M. Valdemar”; others)
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar”; “Self Reliance”
Frederick Douglass, Narrative; “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?”; excerpt from My Bondage and My Freedom
Fanny Fern, Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time
Matthew Arnold, “The Function of Criticism”
Louisa May Alcott, Little Men
Henry James, “The Pupil”; “The Lesson of the Master”
William James, from The Will to Believe
Charles Chesnutt, The Conjure Woman and Other Stories; “Superstition and Folklore”
Gertrude Stein, from The Making of Americans and How to Write; “The Gradual Making of the Making of Americans”
Secondary Texts in alphabetical order (all on Blackboard)
Louis Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”
J. L. Austin, from How to Do Things with Words
Richard Brodhead, from Cultures of Letters: Scenes of Instruction in 19th-Century America
Jacques Derrida, “Declarations of Independence”
Shoshana Felman, The Scandal of the Speaking Body; “Teaching Terminable and Interminable”
Jay Fliegelman, from Declaring Independence
Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish
Barbara Johnson, “Strange Fits”
Richard Poirier, from The Uses of Literature and The Performing Self
Active class participation.
One 5-7 page paper.
One 10-12 page paper.
One writing group session (in lieu of a class) for which you prepare comments on your peers’ work.
Group pedagogical project in last 2-3 weeks of class.
Paper responding to the pedagogical projects.
Occasional informal writing assignments.
**Course enrollment is limited to 15 students.
Pre-requisites: Two 200 level English courses or consent of instructor.