Meaning and Materiality: Recent Trends in Theory|
Fall 2016 not offered
Some of the most exciting recent trends in literary and cultural theory interrogate the relationship among humanity, materiality, and meaning. These scholars ask, How do people relate to the material world, and how do these relationships impact our understanding of literature? For example, book history explores the materiality of the book as it shapes our understanding of the text contained therein: Does it matter who printed the book, or how a given page looks? Other scholars focus on the materiality of readers and readers' minds: How do books work on our bodies, and can cognitive science help us understand our investments in novelistic character? Works in eco-criticism, animal studies, history of science, and "thing theory" ask other kinds of questions: What are the ethical, historical, and philosophical implications of the way objects are depicted in literature? In this course, we will familiarize ourselves with these theoretical trends as we grapple with the relationships between materiality and meaning. We will also map the various ways these trends intersect with or diverge from one another. What do each of these have in common with older, Marxist kinds of materialist thinking? Or with the kinds of postmodern thought that are often accused of neglecting "the real"? Why do these theoretical paradigms have such explanatory power right now? How do they speak to the concerns of our moment?
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Selected literary texts (including Jonathan Swift's fiction and poetry) and theoretical work by Karl Marx, Georg Lukacs, Raymond Williams, Jean Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson, Robert Darnton, D.F. McKenzie, Carlo Ginzburg, Lisa Zunshine, Blakey Vermeule, Jacques Derrida, Lawrence Buell, Bill Brown, Bruno Latour and others.
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Weekly response papers and a final project.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
This course fulfills the Theory major requirement and contributes to the Theory and Literary Forms concentration of the English major.
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