Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG415H1S L0101

ENG415H1S       L0101      M3-5  
Advanced Studies Group 1: Literary Materialism(s): Marx and Beyond
Instructor: Cristina D'Amico
Office Telephone: TBD
Office Address: Jackman Humanities Building, TBD
Email address:

Brief Description of Course: This course is organized around two key questions: what is materialism, and what constitutes a materialist literary practice? Scholars as diverse as Timothy Morton and Gerald Graff have announced the arrival of a “material turn” in literary studies, and this claim demands a more rigorous look at what counts as “material” in our current critical moment. Students will be familiarized with various kinds of materialist practices, including book history and print culture, historical materialism, New Materialism, Ecocriticism and object-oriented ontology. We will look for commonalities among these diverse schools and address ourselves to the deployment of these materialist methodologies in literary criticism. In particular, we will consider how contemporary theoretical approaches depart from or remain faithful to Marx’s account of materialism in the 1844 MS and the Theses on Feuerbach. Finally, we will reflect on the ideological value attached to materialism in literary criticism: why, for example, have scientific and empiricist methodologies gained influence in our current moment? Our course will be supplemented by literary texts that critique and engage aspects of materialism, specifically works by Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, and Henry David Thoreau. True to a materialist ethos, students will have the opportunity to practice, critique, or engage a materialist literary practice with these texts.

Required Reading: TBD
First Three Authors/Texts: Karl Marx Theses on Feuerbach; Marx The Communist Manifesto; Henry David Thoreau Walden
Method of Evaluation: Presentation (10%); response paper (10%); essay proposal and annotated bibliography (15%); essay (50%); informed participation (15%).

Link to ARTSCI Calendar Course Descriptions.

Link to ARTSCI 2016-17 Timetable with Room Allocations.

Return to 400 Level Courses.

Return to 2016-17 Fall-Winter Courses.

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