Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG435H1S L0201

ENG435H1S  L0201  R3-5
Advanced Seminar Group 3: Life, Death and American Fiction
Instructor: Prof. D. Seitler
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 627

Brief Description of Course:  How have the concepts of living and dying been routed through the literary imagination? What specific aesthetic, narrative, and political forms have informed and negotiated these concepts? Foucault, in “Right of Death and Power over Life,” discusses a perceptible shift in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries to an “anatamo-politics of the human body” and a “biopolitics of the population” through which understandings of life and death in relation to state control came to the fore. But there are also a whole host of other narratives of life and death that this course means to take up. With a focus on suicide plots in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century American fiction, we will address psychoanalytic questions about the relationality of pleasure and pain, phenomenological questions about becoming and unbecoming, Foucaultian questions concerning the regulation of “life itself,” and narrative questions about the aesthetic forms through which habitable conditions of being can be represented. Fictional texts will include Edith Wharton, Carson McCullers, Rebecca Harding Davis, Willa Cather, Henry James, and William Faulkner; theoretical material will include Foucault, Heidegger, Lacan, Freud, Cazdyn, Berlant, Cacho, Holland, Derrida, and Edelman.

Required Reading: TBA.

First Three Authors/Texts: TBA.

Method of Evaluation: TBA.

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