Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG438H1S L0101

ENG438H1S   L0101   T11-1
PTA Seminar: Excess and American Literature
Instructor: Alyson Brickey

Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, TBA
Email:
alyson.brickey@mail.utoronto.ca

Brief Description of Course: We are interested in American literary experimentations from the late-nineteenth century onward which can, in one way or another, be described as excessive. We will examine different manifestations of encountering “too much,” such as representations of opulence or grandness of scale, constant repetition, character over-crowding, ‘radical’ political expression, experiments with verbosity, or hyper-description and attention to minutia. What does “too much” mean in relation to art and ideology, and on what sense(s) of measurement do we rely when we call something excessive? What happens when a reader is confronted with too much pain, too much information, too-strong opinions, or too many things? What interpretive challenges might these kinds of over-abundance pose? Throughout the course we will accompany these textswith theoretical readings in our attempt to engage these questions and others that might arise.

Required Reading: Moby-Dick, Herman Melville (1851) “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman (1855) Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein (1914) The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925) Native Son, Richard Wright (1940) Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, James Agee and Walker Evans (1941) “Howl,” Allen Ginsberg (1956) SCUM Manifesto, Valerie Solanas (1967) For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide: When the Rainbow Is Enuf, Ntozake Shange (1975) Course Reader, which will include theoretical selections from Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Walter Benjamin, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Derrida, Hélène Cixous, Frantz Fanon, and others.

Method of Evaluation: Attendance and participation (10%); weekly response papers (15%); abstract of research project (10%); conference rresentation (20%); final research paper (45%).

 


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