Pain, Creativity, and Theory
Engl 302 B: pain, creativity, and theory
This course is designed to tackle the two main complaints about theory: one, that it is alienatingly abstract; and two, that theory doesn’t make sense to people outside the English major. How to make theory an extension of self-making, and remove it from the role of merciless taskmaster? And is it possible to communicate theoretical ideas in “plain English”?
The general theme for the quarter circles around the issue of pain, which is so viscerally real and rooted in the body that it seems the antithesis of cerebral and intangible theory. We’ll use a chapter from Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain as our root text; read essays by Kevin Kelly and Nicholas Carr on the interrelation between human need, creativity, and technology; and end with Mimi Baird and Eve Claxton’s biography He Wanted the Moon, as well as a yet-to-be-determined text. All these works examine how bodily feeling translates into the impulse to narrate, and then how these narrations create cultural systems of feeling that regulate the distribution of who is recognized as fully human. Work will include 2 short papers (4-5 pages) and a review (4-6 pages), as well as informal exploratory writing. All assignment will be geared towards giving you practice in working theoretical language into a grammar and syntax that makes sense to you, and to understand the relationship between self and critical practice.
Please note: no addcodes are available before the first week of the class.