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ENGL 379 A: Special Topics In Forms/genres/media

Dear Reader: Narrative Intimacy and the Limits of Genre

Meeting Time: 
MW 7:00pm - 8:50pm
SAV 136
Professor Harkins in front of bookshelf
Gillian Harkins

Additional Details:

ENGL 379

Dear Reader: Narrative Intimacy and the Limits of Genre

Nobody reads! Print is dead! What happened to the novel? Why is James Franco publishing poetry? Where in the world is le mot juste?

-- Tori Telfer, “Michael Archer, Editor-in-Chief of Guernica Magazine, Talks Paying Writers, MFA Culture, and Editing for Free,” (August 1, 2014)

This class will explore recent challenges to genre as a way of organizing literary texts. Genre has often been used not just to organize writing into specific categories – novel, poem, gothic, romance – but also to classify writing into specific systems of value. Literary writing is often distinguished from non-literary writing through the use of genre and its tacit value distinctions. This class will focus on recent redefinitions of genre by reading writing published in the United States over the last twenty years or so. Our primary texts revise boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose, and journalism and essay by challenging the systems of value assigned through these boundaries. Because this is such a broad topic, the class will focus in particular on writings that open up questions of narrative address. Each of our texts asks how narration – first-person, third-person, collective, and inhuman – shapes the way readers become intimate with !

systems of value and knowledge. The majority of our texts are critical of those systems of racial, gendered, sexual, and national classification that have historically organized narrative values and seek to establish the conditions of readerly intimacy on other grounds.

This class will focus centrally on issues of power, race, gender, and sexuality. Our writers are likely to include: Lynn Emmanuel, Walter Benjamin, Renee Gladman, Jamaica Kincaid, Junot Diaz, David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Justin Torres, Karen Tei Yamashita, Claudia Rankine, Alexander Chee, Cathy Park Hong, Maggie Nelson, and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Catalog Description: 
Introduces and explores a specific area of form, genre, or media as it has influenced the production, practice, or study of literature, language, and culture in English.
GE Requirements: 
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 3:58pm