Oxford Campus, 2017 Courses

Group 2 (British Literature: Beginnings through the 17th Century)

7901  Old English

J. Fyler/M–Th

An introduction to the Old English language and literature, and to Anglo-Saxon culture. Like any course in a foreign language, this one requires a certain amount of memorization—of vocabulary and grammatical paradigms. But Old English is not that difficult to learn, and our emphasis will be literary. We will read a selection of prose works and lots of poetry, including “The Dream of the Rood,” “The Battle of Maldon,” and Beowulf. We will think about Beowulf in the context of similar European epics; please read the Iliad (ed. Fagles) and/or The Song of Roland (ed. Burgess) before the session begins. (This course carries one unit of Group 2 credit and one unit of Group 5 credit.)

Texts: Homer, The Iliad, trans. Robert Fagles (Penguin); The Song of Roland, trans. Glyn Burgess (Penguin); The Anglo-Saxons, ed. James Campbell et al. (Penguin); Bruce Mitchell, An Invitation to Old English and Anglo-Saxon England (Wiley-Blackwell); Eight Old English Poems, ed. John C. Pope and Robert Fulk (Norton); Beowulf, ed. George Jack (Oxford).

7906 Troilus and Criseyde and Troy

J. Fyler/M–Th

This course will focus on Chaucer’s greatest poem, Troilus and Criseyde, and its sources: the classical Latin and medieval accounts of the Trojan War, its antecedents, and its aftermath. These include, above all, Vergil’s Aeneid, Statius’ Thebaid, and Chaucer’s immediate source, Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato, along with several medieval histories and historical romances. Since almost every western European country traces its origins back to Troy, learning this history has a rich payoff for students of literature. Our primary concern will be a close reading of Chaucer, as he places his narrative within a broader literary and historical context. We will discuss a number of issues the poem raises, about narrative technique, historiography, gender, and the nature and meaning of love. I will distribute photocopies for much of this material, including excerpts from the Aeneid; but I encourage you to read Vergil’s poem in its entirety ahead of time. (This course carries one unit of Group 2 credit and one unit of Group 5 credit.)

Texts: Vergil, Aeneid, trans. Robert Fitzgerald (Knopf Doubleday); Reading Vergil’s Aeneid: An Interpretive Guide, ed. Christine Perkell (Oklahoma); Pierre Grimal, The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology (Penguin); Statius, Thebaid, trans. Jane Wilson Joyce (Cornell); Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, ed. Stephen A. Barney (Norton).

7915  The Faerie Queene

C. Nicholson/T, Th

This course offers an immersive introduction to one of the strangest, most challenging, and most addictive works of the English Renaissance, or any period—Edmund Spenser’s allegorical epic-romance The Faerie Queene. Concentrating on the three-book version of 1590, we will get to know Spenser’s poem from a variety of perspectives, from Reformation religion and Elizabethan politics to modern literary theories and reception histories. Because the poem itself is so intricate and capacious, and so alien to contemporary expectations, we will also spend a fair amount of time dwelling on the challenges and possibilities it presents to teachers. The Faerie Queene, as it happens, is a fantastic classroom text, but it is also a fantastic text for thinking about what happens inside classrooms, as readerly experiences are transformed into conversation, debate, and the occasional moment of collective transcendence. In preparation for the first class meeting, students should read only the first two cantos of Book One.

Text: The Faerie Queene, ed. A. C. Hamilton (Longman).

7921  British Theater: Stage to Page to Stage

S. Berenson/M–Th

Using the resources of the British theatre, combined with collaborative on-your-feet exercises, we will examine imagery in dramatic literature. We will be attending performances in London and Stratford. Although there will be a strong emphasis on Shakespeare, we will also explore other playwrights whose work is being performed this summer. Members of the class will be expected to dramatize and present theatrical images. No previous acting experience is required. This is a class for students who love the theatre and understand that the word “image” is the root of the word “imagination.” (This course carries one unit of Group 2 credit and one unit of Group 3 credit.)

Performances will include Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and a puppet version of Venus and Adonis. A final schedule and reading list will be circulated. Enrolled students will be charged a supplemental fee of $800 to cover the costs of tickets and transportation.

7926  Realizing Shakespeare

H. Barr/W, F

How do you realize Shakespeare? Through bringing his plays to life as if they were real? By interpreting them? Or by trying to focus on them with as full an awareness and understanding as we can muster? To answer these questions, this course will look at how five plays (The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, Macbeth, Othello, and The Winter’s Tale) have been made and re-made from when they were written to the present day. We’ll be looking at Shakespeare’s contemporaries and collaborators, later playwrights, filmmakers, novelists and 20th- and 21st-century theatre performance. This is a chance to study how Shakespeare has been remade across time and across continents. Included in our destinations are Japan, India, Africa, Harlem, a Reformation post-republic, and Thatcher’s 1980s Britain. We’ll visit the Northumberland coast, a forbidden planet, a Bohemian coastline reimagined between London and New York, Baltimore, a prison, and Stratford-upon-Avon. Ben Jonson famously claimed that “Shakespeare was not for an age, but for all time.” Was he right? Come, discuss, and decide.

Texts: Adaptations of Shakespeare, ed. Daniel Fischlin and Mark Fortier (Routledge); The Complete Works of Thomas Middleton, ed. Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino (Oxford); Margaret Atwood, Hagseed; Anne Tyler, Vinegar Girl; Jeanette Winterson, The Gap of Time (all Hogarth); John Fletcher, The Island Princess, ed. Clare McManus (Arden).

Films: David Richards, The Taming of the Shrew (2005); Derek Jarman, The Tempest (1979); Fred M. Wilcox, The Forbidden Planet (1956); Orson Welles, Othello (1952); Iqbal Kahn, Othello (2015); Kumar Mangat, Omkara (2006); Akiro Kurosawa, Throne of Blood (1957); Mark Brozel, Macbeth (2005); Gregory Doran, The Winter’s Tale (1999). All the films are available on DVD. Film screenings will form preparation for our seminars. There will be some secondary reading set, but the “realizations” of Shakespeare will be the most important critical responses to these plays.


Group 3 (British Literature: 18th Century to the Present)

7921  British Theater: Stage to Page to Stage

S. Berenson/M–Th

See description under Group 2 offerings.

7940  The City and the Country in British Literature, 1700–1800

C. Gerrard/T, Th

How did writers and artists respond to the rapid growth of metropolitan culture during the 18th century, and the corresponding social and aesthetic changes reflected in the English countryside? This course will explore the way in which the expansion of London encouraged the rise of print culture, metropolitan leisure and fashionable pursuits, financial markets and social mobility and how these were depicted in a range of urban spaces; and how writers imagined the countryside as locus for social stability, honest labour, contemplation, and imagination. We will be reading periodicals, poetry, prose, and drama, with an emphasis on poetic forms. The course should (subject to permission/arrangement) include a special class in Oxford’s Ashmolean museum where students can handle material objects from urban culture (e.g., coffee, fans, etc.), and either a visit to a country house or to some of the older quarters of London.

Texts: Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders (Oxford); John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera (Oxford); The Commerce of Everyday Life: Selections from the Tatler and Spectator, ed. Erin Mackie (Bedford) (esp. Richard Steele on Coffee-Houses, p. 49; Addison on Mr. Spectator, p. 79; The History of a Shilling, p. 183; Addison on the Royal Exchange, p. 293; Edward Ward, A Visit to the Coffee House, p. 144; Women of the Coffeehouses and Shops, p. 213); Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Humphry Clinker (Oxford). Poems mainly taken from Eighteenth-Century Poetry: An Annotated Anthology, 3rd ed., ed. David Fairer and Christine Gerrard (Blackwell Wiley, 2014). Texts to be discussed include John Gay, Trivia Book 2; Swift, “A Description of the Morning” and “A Description of a City Shower”; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, “Saturday”; Pope, Epistle to Burlington; Thomson, Winter 1726; Lady Mary WM, Epistle to Bathurst; Ambrose Philips, A Winter-Piece; Mary Leapor, Crumble Hall; John Gay, The Shepherd’s Week: “Friday, or The Dirge”; George Crabbe, The Village, Book 1; Stephen Duck, The Thresher’s Labour; Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village; Mary Collier, The Woman’s Labour; Ann Finch, A Nocturnal Reverie; Samuel Johnson, London; Parnell, A Night-Piece on Death; Thomas Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard; Anna Barbauld; A Summer Evening’s Meditation. Romantic period texts not in Fairer/Gerrard anthology: Wordsworth, “Tintern Abbey,” The Prelude Book 7, “Residence in London,” and “The Thorn”; William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience, “London,” “The Chimney Sweep,” and “Holy Thursday” (both versions); S. T. Coleridge, “Frost at Midnight.” These can be downloaded/read from a reliable site such as www.rc.umd.edu.

7950  Atlantic Crossings: Anglo-American Literary Relations, 1798–1900

C. Gerrard/T, Th

See description under Group 4 offerings.

7975  James Joyce

J. Johnson/TBD

Students will engage in intensive study of Ulysses in its Hiberno-European, Modernist, and Joycean contexts. We will begin by reading both Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (and Joyce’s poetry, critical essays, Stephen Hero, Exiles, Giacomo Joyce, and Finnegans Wake will all be incorporated into discussions), but the course will be primarily devoted to the reading and study of Ulysses. This work’s centrality to, yet deviation from, the aesthetic and political preoccupations of modernism will be explored.

Primary Texts: James Joyce, Dubliners (any ed.); A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (any ed.); Ulysses, ed. H. W. Gabler (Vintage). Supplementary Texts: Stephen Hero, Exiles, Giacomo Joyce, Finnegans Wake, and Poems and Shorter Writings, ed. Richard Ellmann, A. Walton Litz, and John Whittier-Ferguson (Faber). (Students are not expected to buy the supplementary texts.)

7986  Memoir at the Millennium: A Genre without Borders

C. Kaplan/T, Th

This course explores the nature of contemporary memoir since the 1980s. Increasingly experimental, modern memoir challenges traditional forms of life writing, breaching the fixed boundaries between fact and fiction. As literature it provocatively rivals the novel in its popular appeal. In graphic text and in film, its innovations are even more striking. Focusing on memoirs by an international selection of writers, filmmakers, and graphic artists, we will explore the ways in which memoir’s flexibility and its accommodation of other discourses make it a shape-shifting, hybrid genre. How does the overlap between novel and memoir redefine them? How does modern memoir alter the relationship between personal/family history and public memory? What is the status of “truth” in avant-garde memoir? What can contemporary memoir tell us about the changing registers and salience of emotion in recent times? These questions and themes will be central to the course. There will be ample scope in the course for independent work on related texts and topics. The films will be available to students at Oxford, as will additional critical reading.

Texts: Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name—A Biomythography (Crossing); Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family (Bloomsbury); Hilary Mantel, Giving Up the Ghost: A Memoir (Fourth Estate) and Learning to Talk: Short Stories (Harper Perennial); Patrick Modiano, Pedigree: A Memoir (Yale) and Dora Bruder (University of California); Gillian Slovo, Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country (Little, Brown); Edward W. Said, Out of Place: A Memoir (Vintage); Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk (Grove); Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother? (Mariner); Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking (Vintage). Any editions of the above texts are acceptable.

Films: Terence Davies, Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988); Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, Persepolis (2007); Josh Appignanesi and Devorah Baum, The New Man (2016).


Group 4 (American Literature)

7950  Atlantic Crossings: Anglo-American Literary Relations, 1798–1900

C. Gerrard/T,Th

This course aims to explore the cross-currents and interconnections within British and American literary cultures of the 19th century. By looking at key texts across a wide variety of genres and modes, including epic, romance, the Gothic, realism, and naturalism, we will examine the sometimes tense and competitive relationship between American authors and British cultural models. We will explore a variety of themes, including American innocence and European sophistication; landscape and nature; history; self-reliance and community; sin, guilt and the “double self.” We will conduct seminars around key pairings or groupings of pivotal British and American texts, supplemented by other contemporary materials. (This course carries one unit of Group 3 credit and one unit of Group 4 credit.)

Texts: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798 and 1817); Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851) and “Benito Cereno”; William Wordsworth, The Prelude (two-book version of 1799) and “Westminster Bridge” (1802); Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854); Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,” “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life,” and “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818); Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Huntly (1799); Edgar Allan Poe, Selected Tales (1837) (especially “William Wilson,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Black Cat”); Wordsworth, “The Thorn” (1798); Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (1850) and “Young Goodman Brown”; George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (1860); Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1899); Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905). Most of these texts are readily available in Oxford World’s Classics editions or Penguin editions. There is an Easy Read or a Hackett edition of Edgar Huntly, ed. Philip Barnard.

7987  The American Novel after 1945

L. Pratt/M, W

Taking up a range of novelists, as well as some of the most influential criticism on the novel genre and key historical accounts of the period, we will seek to understand how the novel genre has been conceived and re-conceived by American writers across the late 20th and early 21st  centuries. We will consider the persistence of the bildungsroman across a range of cultural and historical traditions; the differing relations to the realist tradition in the novel that emerge from changing conceptions of political life; the varied notions of faith that persist in the increasingly post-secular society of the United States after WWII; the emergence of “play” as a central concern of the novel form; widespread experiences of displacement in the Americas; and the role of the historical novel in offering an alternative to other forms of history-telling.

Texts: James Baldwin, Another Country (Penguin); Eudora Welty, The Optimist’s Daughter (Virago); Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (Vintage); Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood (Faber & Faber); Don DeLillo, White Noise (Picador); Thomas Pynchon, Crying of Lot 49 (Vintage); Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake (Harper); Richard Wright, Black Boy (Vintage); Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Faber & Faber); Edward P. Jones, The Known World (Harper); Philip Roth, Nemesis (Vintage); Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach, ed. Michael McKeon (Johns Hopkins).


Group 5 (World Literature)

7901  Old English

J. Fyler/M–Th

See description under Group 2 offerings.

7906  Troilus and Criseyde and Troy

J. Fyler/M–Th

See description under Group 2 offerings.

7990  Literature of the Black Atlantic

L. Pratt/M, W

The 1980s marked the advent of a new Black Atlantic age. The Black Atlantic had developed over the previous two centuries as a consequence of international trade in bodies and goods, resistance to such trade, international abolition and anti-racist movements, and the quest for a coherent Black culture. The 1980s saw the birth of an Anglophone Black Atlantic culture that was fed by these forces but refashioned cultures of blackness along the Atlantic rim. Through a focus on three key Black Atlantic cultural forms—the autobiography, visual portraiture, and Soul/Post-Soul aesthetics—we will consider the effects of this new Black Atlantic then and now. In addition to selections from the reading list, students will receive access to an online audio track and visual archive. We will make site visits to Autograph: ABP, Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum, and the British Library. Students will need to budget £150 for site visit travel expenses.

Texts: Toni Cade Bambara, The Salt Eaters (Vintage); News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry, ed. James Berry (Chatto and Windus); Paul Gilroy, There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation (Chicago); Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Harvard); Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Ben Okri, Incidents at the Shrine (Vintage); Caryl Phillips, The Final Passage (Vintage); Richard Schur, “Post-Soul Aesthetics in Contemporary African Art” in African American Review 41:4 ( Winter 2007, available online); John Edgar Wideman, The Homewood Books (Pittsburgh).

7997  Theories of Waste and Its Aesthetic Management

K. Schoonover/T, Th

This course considers waste to be a central feature of modern theoretical, social, and textual practices. As overproduction and waste increasingly characterize late capitalism, a rubbish-laden future seems unavoidable. In this context, many writers and artists of the last century have turned to trash as a way of addressing the broader politics of cultural production. The course examines various forms of waste, including textual excess, aesthetic surplus, affective overages, culture detritus, and garbage. Waste raises a range of questions from the postmodern sublime to appropriation, from metaphors of digestion and plumbing to questions of labour and value. This focus allows us to engage with a range of thinkers and artists working across the 20th century and into the 21st century. Alongside our readings in aesthetics, queer theory, ecocriticism, object-oriented ontology, and visual culture studies, films will provide common primary texts for our discussions. Screenings will accompany each central conceptual unit of the course.

Texts: Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, (Routledge); Siegfried Kracauer, “Basic Concepts” and “The Establishment of Physical Existence” in Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality (Oxford, pp. 27–59); Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Duke); Maurizia Boscagli, “Garbage in Theory” in Stuff Theory: Everyday Objects, Radical Materialism (Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 227–268); Lawrence Buell, “Toxic Discourse” in Critical Inquiry 24:3 (April 1998, pp. 639–65); Karen Pinkus, “Antonioni, Cinematic Poet of Climate Change,” in Antonioni, Centenary Essays, ed. John David Rhodes and Laura Rascaroli (Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 255–275).

Films: Watch one or both of the following conventional eco-documentaries before the term begins: Candida Brady, Trashed (2012); Leila Connors and Nadia Connors, The 11th Hour (2007).

7998  Globalization and the Question of World Culture

K. Schoonover/M, W

What do we mean when we talk about the world? Recent accounts of “world literature,” “world music,” and “world cinema” ask us to reconsider how we imagine global community. In the context of globalization, climate change, and resurgent nationalism, this course attends to the relationship between aesthetics and how we relate to the world. How do we define the boundaries of the human communities? What role should culture play in connecting us to foreign people, places, ideas? Does the shape of fictional worlds determine the contours of geopolitics? Film screenings will accompany several units of the course.

Texts: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1848); Saskia Sassen, “Spatialities and Temporalities of the Global: Elements for a Theorization” in Public Culture 12:1 (2000, pp. 215–232); Arjun Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy” in Public Culture 2:2 (Spring 1990, pp. 1–24); Emily Apter, “Introduction,” in Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability (Verso, pp. 1–27); David Damrosch, “Goethe Coins a Phrase [introduction],” in What Is World Literature? (Princeton, pp. 138); Ash Amin, “Lively Infrastructure” in Theory, Culture & Society (Vol. 31, 2014, pp. 137–161); Brian Larkin, “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure” in Annual Review of Anthropology 42 (October 2013, pp. 327–343); Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Duke); David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford); Wendy Brown, “Preface” and “Undoing Democracy [Chapter 1]” in Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (MIT, pp. 9–16, 17–46); David Eng, “The Queer Space of China: Expressive Desire in Stanley Kwan’s Lan Yu” in Positions 18:2 (September 2010, pp. 459–87).