Department of English

University of Toronto

6000-Level Courses

6000-Level Graduate Courses - 2013-2014

Repetition in Modern Thought and Culture
U. Esonwanne

Course Description

Solemnly, Soren Keirkegaard predicted that repetition would not only "play a very important role in modern philosophy," but that modern philosophy would teach us that life itself "is a repetition." Modern thinkers since Kierkegaard have returned repeatedly to the problematic of repetition, be this in history (Marx), psychic processes (Freud"), ethnology (Eliade), philosophy (Deleuze), or literary theory and criticism (Bloom, Miller, and Said). Now if contemporary art, like the Human Sciences, teach us that life is a repetition, we must ask what precisely life and art repeat, how, and under what circumstances. Are we, like the anthropologist in Amitav Ghosh's In an Antique Land, fated to constantly "recognize" our stories in other media and, thereafter, compelled to retell them in a psychologically redemptive incantatory pattern? Such are the issues that Repetition in Modern Thought and Culture will address.

Normally we perceive life as monolithic in its singularity and regular in its temporality. All of life, it seems, is of a piece, and seasonal cycles unfold with unvarying promptness and mind-numbing predictability. But about a century and a half ago Søren Kierkegaard turned our normal perception of life on its head. Solemnly, he predicted that repetition would not only “play a very important rôle in modern philosophy,” but that modern philosophy would teach us that life itself “is a repetition.” Since Kierkegaard’s prediction, modern thinkers have returned, again and again, to the problematic of repetition, be this in history (Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte), psychic processes (Freud, “Remembering, Repeating and Working Through”), ethnology (Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return or, Cosmos and History), philosophy (Deleuze, Difference and Repetition), or literary theory and criticism (Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence; Miller, Fiction and Repetition; and Said, “Repetition”). Such scholarly preoccupations with repetition, from the late 19th century and on, confirm Kierkegaard’s prescience. But so, too, does contemporary art, as witness some selected exhibits: music (Paul Simon’s riff on Miriam Makeba); fiction (Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Gordimer’s A Guest of Honour, Gogol’s “Diary of a Madman” and Lu Xun’s “Diary of a Madman”); drama (Shakespeare’s Macbeth & Welcome Msomi’s Umabatha); fiction and film (Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Bride and Prejudice, or Homer’s Iliad and O Brother, Where art thou?), fiction and opera (Morrison’s Beloved & Danielpour’s Margaret Garner), drama and fiction (Shakespeare’s The Tempest & Coetzee’s Foe), drama and poetry (Homer’s Odyssey & Walcott’s Omeros), and drama and painting (Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and Bearden’s Watching the Good Trains Go By). Now if contemporary art, like the Human Sciences, teaches us that life is a repetition, we must ask what precisely such art repeats. We must also ask how, and under what circumstances, this repetition we call “life” occurs, and how it manifest itself in various realms of quotidian life. Are we, like the anthropologist in Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land, fated to constantly “recognize” our stories in other media and, thereafter, compelled to retell them in a psychologically redemptive incantatory pattern? Such are the issues that Repetition in Modern Thought will address.

Course Requirements
Primary Texts
Homer. The Odyssey. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993
Mary Zimmerman. The Odyssey: a play. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2006
O Brother, where art thou? (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Sophocles. Antigone. Tr. David Franklin and John Harrison. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003
Jean Anouilh. Antigone. Tr. Barbara Bray. London: Methuen Drama, 2005
Antigone. Dir. Don Taylor. Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 2008
William Shakespeare. The Tempest. New York: Penguin, 1999
Elizabeth Nunez. Prospero’s Daughter. New York: Ballantine Books, 2006
Forbidden Planet. Dir. Fred Wilcox, 1956
Daniel Defoe. Robinson Crusoe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998
Michel Tournier. Friday. Tr. Norman Denny. Baltimore: John’s Hopkins University Press, 1997
Robinson Crusoe on Mars. Dir. Byron Haskin. Paramount Pictures

Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition. Tr. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994
Douglas, Mary. Thinking in Circles: an essay on ring composition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.  
Freud, Sigmund. “Remembering, Repeating and Working Through.” The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological
Works of Sigmund Freud Vol. 12
. Ed. and Tr. James Strachey. London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1958b. Pp. 145–156
Kierkegaard, Søren Aabye. Repetition: An Essay in Experimental Psychology. Tr. Walter Lowrie. New York and London:
Harper & Row Publishers, 1964
Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Adaptation. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.
Marx, Karl. The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Tr. Eden and Cedar Paul. New York: International Publishers,
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None. Tr. Adrian Del Caro and Robert Pippin.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Pp. 156–187. 308 pp.  
Rimmon–Kennan, Shlomith. “The Paradoxical Status of Repetition.” Poetics Today 1.4 (Summer 1980): 151–159.  
Said, Edward W. “Repetition.” The World, the Text, and the Critic. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983.
Sanders, Julie. Adaptation and Appropriation. New York: Routledge, 2006.  
Vico, Giambattista. “On an Eternal Natural Commonwealth, in Each Kind Best, Ordained by Divine Providence.”
The New Science of Giambattista Vico. Tr. Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harold Fisch. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1948.

Seminar presentation (30), Mini–conference (20), Research paper (50)

Tuesday / 11:00 am - 1:00 pm (2 hours)
Room JHB718, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George

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Diasporic Englishes
C. Percy

Course Description:

A survey of diasporic Englishes, with strong emphasis on lexicon, morphology, syntactical structure, and pronunciation in their distinctness from ‘standard English’. Attention will be given to the historical and cultural circumstances that have informed these transformations. While we will survey specific developments (such as, for instance, Englishes in Scotland, Canada, the Caribbean, India, and on the internet), these varieties will illustrate more general developments and dynamics of language variation in the diaspora. General topics may include concepts and terms for describing language; language contact and language change; pidgins and Creoles; the use of English as a primary language, and official second language, and an international language; globalization; language planning; issues pertaining to the codification and teaching of ‘non-standard’ Englishes; the dynamics of the Creole continuum and of language-mixing in literary and non-literary texts.

Course Requirements
This is an introductory course. Informal lectures will be complemented by brief reports on (30%) and intelligent discussion of (10%) the week’s sociolinguistic topics. A proposal and classified/annotated bibliography (10%) and class taught (20%) on the subject of your final research paper (30%), written on a topic of relevance to your own research interests.

Primary Texts: Literary and non-literary texts (TBA) will illustrate lectures and seminars.

Secondary Texts: A course reader will supplement a general textbook such as Tom McArthur, The Oxford Guide to World English (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002).

Monday / 11:00 am - 1:00 pm (2 hours)
Room JHB616, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George

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Environmental Criticism and Postcolonial Discourse
S. Radović

Course Description
In this course, we will examine the relationship between environmental criticism and postcolonial discourse with respect to their shared concern with specific location in the global context. Many postcolonial authors and critics explore the aesthetics of geopolitical scale (small/large, marginal/central, local/global, particular/universal) by using topography, vegetation, and landscape as conceptual categories and literary metaphors. Through select readings ranging from environmental and postcolonial to postmodern theories of space, we will address the role of concrete and symbolic locations in these critical discourses and their attempt to offer alternative readings of the global world. Topics include: transoceanic imagery and the poetics of water; voyage and “errantry”; island topography and insular poetics; nature metaphors in theory (the mangrove, the rhizome); roots and routes.

Course Requirements
Poetics of Relation (Glissant), In Praise of Creoleness (Chamoiseau, Bernabé, Confiant), A Small Place (Kincaid), The Enigma of Arrival (V.S. Naipaul), “Of Other Spaces” (Michel Foucault), The Repeating Island (Benitez Rojo), Selections from Caribbean Literature and the Environment (eds. DeLoughrey, Gosson an Handley), Selections from The Future of Environmental Criticism (Buell) and Ecocriticism (Garrard), Omeros (Walcott), Selections from A Thousand Plateaus (Deleuze and Guattari), Our Sea of Islands (Epeli Hau’ofa), The Womb of Space: The Cross-Cultural Imagination (Wilson Harris), Routes (James Clifford), The Black Atlantic (Paul Gilroy).

Seminar discussions, reading responses, oral presentations, written assignment (final essay).

Monday / 7:00 pm- 9:00 pm (2 hours)
Room JHB616, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George

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Between Marxism and Psychoanalysis: Trauma, Ethics, Politics
M. Ruti

Course Description
This seminar traces the thematics of trauma, ethics, and politics via a close examination of key thinkers from the Marxist and psychoanalytic traditions. Both Marx and Freud were interested in the potentially traumatizing relationship between the individual and his or her social environment. Their work has given rise to vibrant attempts to think ethics and politics in light of this traumatic encounter. Whether we are talking about the individual's relationship to his or her intimate others or to the surrounding collective world, it is impossible to escape questions of ethical conduct, desire, power, subjection, agency, and resistance. These questions constitute the major themes of this course, examined through the lens of Marx and Freud, as well as through some of their most prominent interpreters. The readings for this course will be unusually difficult, so that a tolerance for a pedagogy of non-mastery is essential.

Marx, The Marx-Engels Reader (ed. Tucker); Freud, The Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis; Freud, The Schreber Case; Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment; Marcuse, Eros and Civilization; Jameson, The Political Unconscious; Lacan, The Psychoses; Deleuze and Guattari, The Anti-Oedipus; Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth; Zizek, Less Than Nothing; Santner, The Royal Remains.

The course will be conducted as a seminar discussion. Paper proposal: 15% Final paper: 60% Seminar participation: 25%

Tuesday / 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm (2 hours)
Room JHB718, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George

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Writing the Foreign: Empathy and Complicity in Canadian Literature
S. Kamboureli

*New Course Added May 23, 2013

Course Description
Despite the long-standing Canadian debates about the ethics and politics of cultural appropriation, the question of how to read Canadian authors’ representations of foreign geopolitical spaces and their reception in Canada has only recently begun to receive the sustained treatment it deserves, e.g., in discourses of security and humanitarianism. Canadian authors from Earle Birney and Margaret Laurence to Karen Connelly and David Bergen have not only drawn on their own experiences abroad to represent foreign subjects, but have also attempted to problematize the representation of cultural differences in relation to the Canadian imaginary. Such representations tend to hold an increasingly privileged position within the Canadian literary marketplace whereby accounts of foreign others and humanitarian crises circulate as authentic renderings of their authors’ own encounters. This course will address the theoretical and sociopolitical implications of these topics by focusing on a selection of Canadian literary texts (and related theoretical material) that thematize empathy, complicity, the author as traveler / tourist, and what constitutes the foreign.

Tentative Texts
A selection of theoretical articles (TBA) plus the following literary texts:
Dionne Brand, Inventory (poetry)
Karen Connelly, Burmese Lessons (memoir)
Gil Courtmanche, A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali (novel in translation)
Camilla Gibb, Sweetness in the Belly (novel)
Michael Helm, Cities of Refuge (novel)
Kim Echlin, The Disappeared (novel)


Wednesday / 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm (3 hours)
Room JHB617 (NB: ROOM CHANGE), Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George

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Palestine/Israel; Israel/Palestine
S. Salih

Course Description

In this course we will attempt some theoretical approaches to the question of the neighbour, the ‘other,’ mourning and melancholia through a focus on writings which deal with a highly contemporary situation: the conflict in Israel-Palestine. Although all our readings will engage to a greater or lesser extent with Palestine and Israel, the abstract philosophical questions we’ll discuss undoubtedly have a broad reach in theoretical and literary-critical analysis.

The publication of Judith Butler’s Parting Ways. Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism in 2012 signals an increasing critical-theoretical interest in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Our discussions will begin with Hannah Arendt’s contentious book on the Eichmann trial, and we’ll read our way through Edward Said, Amos Oz and Jacqueline Rose to Butler’s engagements with Jewish and Arab thinkers and writers.

As well as questions of neighbourliness and otherness, issues and concepts we’ll discuss in relation to our readings and viewings will include: literary and theoretical modes of representing contested and occupied territory; the ways in which one of the most intractable political situations of our time abuts on more abstract questions concerning ethics, violence, secularism and religion, as well as more literary questions concerning the representation and role of the intellectual; the impact of occupation on rhetoric, genre and style.

In conjunction with our theoretical readings two comics and two films will provide the opportunity for us to discuss the narrativization and visualization of the Palestinian- Israeli conflict and its history, while our reading of Elias Khoury’s epic novel will permit us to reflect on how more ‘traditional’ modes of representation have engaged with the politics of dispossession and the numerous ethical challenges it presents for writers and thinkers.

Course Requirements
Potential readings (subject to availability):

Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem
Judith Butler, Parting Ways
Jacqueline Rose, The Question of Zion
Edward Said, The Question of Palestine

Joe Sacco, Footnotes in Gaza
Guy Delisle, Jerusalem Chronicles
Saree Makdisi, Palestine Inside Out

Elias Khoury, Gate of the Sun

Sato Makoto, Out of Place
Eyal Sivan, The Specialist

Method of evaluation
In-class review 10%
Abstract 10%
Conference presentation 20%
Final research paper 40%
Participation 20%.

Monday / 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm (2 hours)
Room JHB616, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George

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