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The Written Legacies of Colonialism

Understand the lasting impact of American and European colonialism through literature.

*ENGL222: American Literature, 1865-Present (Kerishma Panigrahi)

"This Land is Whose Land? Nationalism and Borders"
From the resounding calls to abolish ICE, to the cry that Black Lives Matter, to the declaration that there is no justice on stolen land, the people are demanding that the U.S. confront its uncensored past like never before. This course seeks to contextualize our current moment within the longer history of U.S nation-building through an examination of literature from the Civil War to the present. We will read with an attentiveness to issues of race, gender, sexuality, class, disability, immigration, environmentalism, and imperialism as central to understanding U.S. history. We will consider the questions: What is “America,” and what do we know as “American literature?” Where did these constructs come from, and have they remained stable throughout history?

Course texts will range in genre and medium, including novels, short stories, poetry, nonfiction, film, and music. Writers studied may include but are not limited to Zitkála-Šá, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston, Vine Deloria Jr, Toni Morrison, Gloria Anzaldúa, Louise Erdrich, Maxine Hong Kingston, Junot Diaz, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

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*CMLT235: Black Diaspora Literature and Culture (Nancy Vera)

This course will examine the forced and voluntary migration of Africans in North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. A global view of African people's dispersal and a comparative examination of world history, culture, and literature will allow us to uncover common threads of racial formations from the colonial period to the present. Moreover, we will examine the role African writers and activists had in shaping the societies and nations they inhabited, whether voluntarily or by force.  After completing this course, students will understand how race, borders, and countries have been constructed from the colonial period to the present and the continuing role of writers in shaping history and society.  

To demonstrate proficiency in these topics, students can choose to demonstrate their understanding through different communication forms: essays, poems, podcasts, illustrative cartoons, collaborative writing projects, book reviews, blog entries, social media posts, Wikipedia article edits, or other creative projects.

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* ENGL360: African, Indian, and Caribbean Writers (Sangeeta Ray)

This course examines 20th- and 21st -century fiction, particularly novels, from South Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, focusing particularly on issues of migration and the refugee crisis. The novels will range in genre from realism to science/dystopian fiction to graphic novel. In addition to critical response essays, students will have the opportunity to write a creative piece, book review, opinion piece for a newspaper, or other mode of public writing. They might also develop a multimedia project in which writing is just one component and in which they respond to films or art from the various regions alongside the novels we read.  

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* ENGL368J: Contemporary Black Literature (Sangeeta Ray)

In 1857, social reformer Frederick Douglass, who escaped slavery in Maryland, delivered a “West India Emancipation” speech emphasizing the crucial role that the West Indian slaves played in their own freedom struggle. That speech began with what are today his most quoted words: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” This class begins with this speech by Douglass and then moves outwards to Africa and the Caribbean, to the U.K. and Europe, and then back to North America, examining creative depictions of struggle and liberation. We will study novels and short stories, films, and art, and will attend to the revolutionary successes and failures of different Black populations around the globe and up to the present moment. We will close the course with #BlackLivesMatter and its spread globally with work from Saeed Jones, author of How We Fight for Our Lives.

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*ENGL410: Edmund Spenser (Kim Coles)

“Spenser, Race, and Colonialism”
Edmund Spenser was a politician and poet. He was also one of the chief architects of 16th-century race-thinking, and proponents of English colonial policy. We like to pretend that art is not tied to politics. But culture is not neutral.  
In this class, we will explore Spenser’s political interventions, and how we can use him for our own. Contemporary artists like Kehinde Wiley show us through painting and sculpture one way to address our past: to show the art that should have been, to intervene in what was, and to fill in its blank spaces. Spenser was at the center of some of the most controversial political and cultural moments of the English Renaissance. We will examine his politics in such short(er) poems as The Shepheardes Calender, prose pieces such as A View of the Present State of Ireland, and selected books from Spenser’s long poem, The Faerie Queene. Throughout, we will consider how Spenser can be turned to our political purposes: how he has been used, and can be used, as rhetoric for resistance.

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See the full list of Fall 2020 courses.