M/W/F 11:00-12:00 225 Dwinelle Instructor: Marianne Kaletzky

This class aims to reconsider our assumptions about the family home. Contemporary popular culture celebrates the home as a refuge from the world, finding in its separation from public life and association with the nuclear family the promise of a nurturing, comfortable space where we can simply be ourselves. Yet literature and film are replete with another sort of home: isolated but never totally private, familiar but never completely safe.

Over the course of the semester, we’ll explore a number of unconventional homes.  In our first unit, we’ll visit some houses that, while familial, are anything but warm: haunted by ghosts, suffocated by unhappy marriages, or paralyzed by the threat of their own destruction. Then we’ll turn to a set of non-domestic living spaces, including the boarding school, the convent, the prison, and the hotel. As we move from familial homes to institutional ones, we’ll rethink the oppositions that supposedly distinguish them: between private and public, between what seems natural and what’s obviously artificial, and between home and everything that isn’t.

Since this is an R and C course, its major goals are to improve students’ skills in close reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing, and to explore the relationships between the three skills. In addition to discussing the texts in class, students will write responses to them in a variety of forms, from literary analysis essays to creative projects.

Texts may include:


Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny”

Friedrich Engels, On the Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (excerpt)

James Joyce, “The Dead”

Albert and David Maysles, Grey Gardens

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Edgar Allan Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher”

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse


Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (excerpt)

Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

Stanley Kubrick, The Shining

Paweł Pawlikowski, Ida

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Lobster

Art Spiegelman, Maus