ENGL 494 HONORS SEMINAR
Instructor: Gillian Harkins
Days/Times: TTH 3:30 - 5:20 GUG 218
Office Hours: W 12-2 A-306 Padelford
U.S. Empire and the Poesis of Displacement
This Honors Seminar will explore post-1968 narratives about the imperial geographies of the United States. The year 1968 marked a turning point in struggles to transform existing world orders, with the U.S. as one central site of contestation over radical redistributions of wealth and power. Fast-forward to 1988: the announced end of the Cold War once again promised global transformations in distributions of wealth and power. Only this time, the players and scripts had changed dramatically. If in 1968 decolonization, anti-racism and anti-militarism were often linked to resistance to capitalism, in 1988 capitalism was often presented as the pre-condition for social and political redistribution. This Honors seminar will explore some of the cultural imaginaries born from these struggles over redistribution, with a specific focus on literary narratives that resituate capitalism within post-1968 geographies of empire. We will read narratives about the United States that feature dispossession and displacement as twin logics of redistribution. By telling stories about the way people and things are made valuable or disposable through the poesis of place, these narratives ask if and how the concept of empire applies to the contemporary period.