Reading & Composition

A plague-ridden Thebes, an Indian reservation, a Rio slum, a U.S.-Mexico border town, the LA hood, a California women’s prison. These are the settings for our examination of characters who run up against obstacles—from within themselves, their families and tribes, the economic and legal systems they live in—that lead them to make criminal choices. These choices, and the risks they provoke, taint the characters even as they dare us to care for them.

Reading & Composition

Asian American Aliens, Black Bayou Magic, Indigenous Inventions, A.I.D.S.-Inducted Angels. Genre fantasy isn’t often deemed worthy of study in university-level courses, but writers, comics creators, musicians, and dramatists have been engaging the fantastic for a long time. What were they up to? How can we engage with their works? And who decides what’s “fantastic” and what's “real” anyway? These are some of the jumping off points for this course that is rooted in the idea that fantastic fiction is not only worthy of study, but also fun.

Reading & Composition

How do you write the body? Dramatic literature is often forced to grapple with this question, because, in most cases, it is writing that will be or has already been performed by live human beings. In this course, we read texts from the genre of dramatic literature to examine their approaches to language and the body. Readings focus primarily on experimental theatre from the 20th century in America, Western Europe, Russia, and Japan, although the course also includes a few readings from classical dramatic literature and a brief examination of naturalism.

Reading & Composition

The frontier is a tricky place to define: within, yet apart; the same, yet different. It shouldn’t surprise us that literary and cinematic depictions of these peculiar spaces often contain unexpected contradictions.  Think, for example, of the the Hollywood western – the genre most famous for depicting the American frontier. These movies are set on the outskirts of civilization, in the forests and deserts of the American West, and yet they’re all about the things that make up civilization: law and order, financial stability, and  the family.

Reading & Composition

How does environmental change change literature, and our contexts for reading, writing and interpreting it? What kinds of changes in the environment elude linguistic and literary expression because they are too minor or microscopic, too slow or processual? In this course, we’ll engage authors, activists, and critics whose practices attend to ecological relation and environmental loss. How do literary and cultural texts regard, articulate, and act upon the movements of an extra-human world?

Reading & Composition

Since before Columbus’ ‘discovery’ to current (im)migration crises, travel has played a significant role in America's story. But how and why have the many movements of people and goods shaped the ways we imagine America—its pasts, presents, and possible futures? What does it mean to travel within or to a ‘New World’ continent—to explore or take a trip, to be on the move or be (re)moved—and how do experiences of travel impact our sense of place and belonging?

Reading & Composition

A barber wakes up one morning without his nose.

An old man with wings shows up in the courtyard of a small town.

The Devil disguised as a professor decides to pay a visit to 1930s Moscow.

Reading & Composition

A plague-ridden Thebes, an Indian reservation, a Rio slum, a U.S.-Mexico border town, the LA hood, a California women’s prison. These are the settings for our examination of characters who run up against obstacles—from within themselves, their families and tribes, the economic and legal systems they live in—that lead them to make criminal choices. These choices, and the risks they provoke, taint the characters even as they dare us to care for them.

Reading & Composition

This course will explore fairy tales and how such stories are adapted and translated across cultural, linguistic, national, historical, and temporal boundaries. Most of us know many fairy tales, but the versions of those fairy tales vary widely. Examining these variations, together we will be asking what it means to adapt a story that ‘everyone knows.’ What old meanings are lost, and can they be recovered? What new meanings emerge with new adaptations or as the surrounding culture evolves?

Reading & Composition

What does life look like in “plague-time”?

What does it mean for a body, a place, a community to be “clean” or “unclean”?

What can we learn from fictional and historical sites of contamination?

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