COURSES TAUGHT, 2013-2014
Introduction to American Literature
This course introduces students to the range and depth of American literature. We will examine a broad selection of texts (poems, short stories, essays, autobiographies, novels, and plays) beginning with those produced during the European encounter with the ‘New World’ and ending with the present moment. The genesis, growth, and increasingly complex implications of mythologies of the self and the nation – chief among them the ideal of personal autonomy and the notion of American exceptionalism – will be a major focus of our lectures.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
This course explores a selection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s stories and novels. Our discussions will focus on Fitzgerald’s thematic preoccupations (above all, youth, wealth, dissipation), and their relationship to the broader socio-historical conditions in which he wrote, as we seek to clarify his genius as a chronicler of American promise and its betrayal. Class presentations will take two forms: brief appraisals of Fitzgerald’s life at specific moments, and longer analyses of individual works. Supplementary discussions (hosted on Moodle) will be devoted to cinematic adaptations of Fitzgerald’s oeuvre. Contemporary American Gothic This course explores a selection of American Gothic novels, most of which were published during the last two decades, along with several films released during the same period. We will aim to define some of the distinctive features of the genre in relation to both its European and American lineage, and, more broadly, to map out the dark side of the American imaginary by focussing on a number of intersecting topics: the nation’s haunting legacy of racial oppression, the mutation of national mythologies of self-making, the freakish values of consumer and celebrity culture, and the emergence of the technologized ‘post-human’ subject. An Introduction to Literary Study This course offers an introduction to the study of literature. We will explore key aspects of narrative theory, and engage in a series of close readings – ranging widely across genres and time periods – of prose, poetry, and drama. Our primary goals will be to build up a working vocabulary of critical terms; develop effective strategies for close reading; hone writing skills, including those related to thesis development, argumentation, quotation, formatting, style, grammar, and research methods; and improve analytic techniques that can profitably be applied to other subjects. Our course tutorials will provide students with extensive opportunities for the practical application of lecture material.