ENGL 200 D -- Representing the Ocean
Instructor: Matthew Hitchman
Course Meetings: SMI 305, MTWTh 12:30-1:20
Office Hours and Location: PDL A-011B, Mondays from 1:30-3:30, or by appointment
Course Texts: Toni Morrison, A Mercy
(Other readings in "Files" on Canvas)
Course Description: When you stand on the shore and look out at the ocean, are you able to comprehend its vastness? What histories come to mind? Do you think about climate change and pollution, about pirates and shipwrecks, about the history of the slave trade? Or, do you completely lose your sense of self as wave after wave comes crashing in front of you?
This course will explore literary representations of the ocean and introduce students to methods of critical literary practice. We will consider two main questions throughout the course: (1) how do different literary forms make visible the ocean as a material and historical space; and (2) how does focusing upon the ocean in literature open up specific histories and contexts for academic inquiry?
Throughout the quarter the ocean will be the space through which we consider the connections between capitalism and the global flow of commodities, American empire and colonization, the transatlantic slave trade, and ecological devastation. We will consider novels, short stories, poetry, film, and criticism. In a time when we are seeing storms of unprecedented size and increasing rates of ecological disasters, it is more pressing than ever to think critically about the stories we tell each other of our world and how they might move us in new ways.