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ENGL 302 C: Critical Practice

Meeting Time: 
TTh 7:00pm - 8:50pm
SAV 131
Katherine Cummings

Additional Details:

The course title is intended to signal two strands of inquiry that we will pursue this quarter, each of which pays particular attention to how monsters are defined, the historical conditions in which these figurations or definitions of monstrosity emerge and their legacies. We will begin our investigation in the 19th century focusing on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and Stephen Crane’s “The Monster” as symptomatic of texts that in defining the monster as unnatural and inhuman figure what counts as personhood and, by extension, citizenship, along with the rights and value that attend it. On the one hand, these texts promulgate then hegemonic understandings about race, gender, class, and sexuality which orchestrate what Michel Foucault defines as “state racism”: namely a biopolitical regime that subdivides humanity into “we, the people” whose well being the state is pledged to foster and the less than human whose lives are marketable, disposable, or menacing. On the other hand, the same texts offer a counter vision, that upends this binary and the values that it assigns. A second, late 20th century strain heralds what Donna Haraway calls “the promise of monsters”; we’ll examine what that promise might signal for better and worse in a critically contextualized readings of recent texts. Other required texts will include: Octavia Butler’s Dawn and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake; plan on in class viewing of a couple of short films of one or two t.v. espsodes from Walking Dead and/or Freaks.

Requirements: active classroom participation; 7 short (1 page, single-spaced) critical responses to assigned texts; a final 7-8 page essay on monsters (double-spaced).
Objectives: The course is designed to provide students with: 1. a solid foundation in critical practices that take up the question of monstrosity and its impact on everyday life; 2. training in reading literary works historically, as rich cultural documents whose aesthetic strategies are always also political; 3. enhanced critical reading and writing skills; 4. a keener awareness of current directions in Critical Cultural Studies.

Catalog Description: 
Intensive study of, and exercise in, applying important or influential interpretive practices for studying language, literature, and culture, along with consideration of their powers/limits. Focuses on developing critical writing abilities. Topics vary and may include critical and interpretive practice from scripture and myth to more contemporary approaches, including newer interdisciplinary practices. Prerequisite: minimum grade of 2.0 in ENGL 197 or ENGL 297; a minimum grade of 2.0 in ENGL 202 or ENGL 301; may not be repeated if received a grade of 2.0 or higher.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 11:01am