Utter Nonsense: Making Sense of Literature and Theory|
Spring 2019 not offered
One of the central concerns of 20th-century literary theory was to figure out how we make sense of texts and, especially, how this making sense of something comes to seem so intuitive and self-evident that we regularly talk about texts themselves as, intrinsically, making sense or not making sense.
This course examines this question by looking closely at a collection of literary texts that seem, in some obvious way, not to make sense on their own. These texts present themselves as utter nonsense, yet they also ask us to make sense of them. Starting from dada and surrealism and working our way through a variety of avant-garde formal experiments, we will look the different ways these texts have been constructed, read, interpreted, and used. At the same time, we will read a series of literary theorists who developed sophisticated psychoanalytic and semiotic accounts of the ways that we make sense of texts and of language more generally. Our goal throughout will be to see how these seemingly marginal works of nonsense literature might illuminate the ways that we make sense of all texts and utterances, even the most common everyday variety.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Student Option|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (COL)(ENGL)
Poems and prose works by: Gertrude Stein, Velimir Khlebnikov, Tristan Tzara, Andre Breton, Eugene Ionesco, Jackson Mac Low, John Cage, Raymond Queneau, Harry Matthews, George Perec, Christian Bök, Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov.
Theoretical readings by: Sigmund Freud, Victor Shklovsky, Roland Barthes, J.L. Austin, Angus Fletcher, Gregory Bateson, Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man, Barbara Johnson, Stanley Fish.
|Examination and Assignments: |
Biweekly response papers; two medium-length (6-8 pages) essays or one research paper (15-20 pages).
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