You are here

ENGL 308 A: Marxism and Literary Theory

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
LOW 201
Alys Eve Weinbaum

Syllabus Description:


Schedule of Readings and Assignments   

The following schedule is subject to revision. It is your responsibility to stay abreast of all changes and to come to class prepared.  

All changes to the syllabus will be noted in "Announcements" on Canvas.


Unit I:  History and Class

Week 1 

Tuesday, March 31

Introduction to the course. 

We will go over the syllabus and I will answer any questions about course format—Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Thursday, April 2

Lecture and discussion on Communist Manifesto--Zoom meeting starts at 1:30 


Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto (1848); sections I and II (pp. 1-26)


 (Links to an external site.)

Naomi Klein, Corona-Capitalism (Links to an external site.)

Supplemental reading:

Mike Davis, on Coronavirus and universal health care (Links to an external site.)


Week 2

Tuesday, April 7

Lecture and discussion of Communist Manifesto—Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Final two sections of Communist Manifesto (pp.27-39) and the "Prefaces" to the English (1888), German (1890), and Polish (1892) editions.

Note:  Prefaces begin on p. 40 of the book; they are also available in a separate file from the main text on Canvas.

Karl Marx, “Theses Concerning Feuerbach” (1845)

Karl Marx, “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy” (1859)


Reader response 1 A and B due.  Upload your response paper to Canvas by 1:30.

These responses must be on the Communist Manifesto.  They may also (but need not) bring in any of the other readings for this session in relation to the main text.  2 pages 


Thursday, April 9

Lecture and discussion on Wallerstein—Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Immanuel Wallerstein, “The Ideological Tensions of Capitalism:  Universalism versus Racism and Sexism” and “Class Conflict in Capitalist World Economy”

Ta-Nehisi Coates, (Links to an external site.)

If you want to go deeper into issue of racial capitalism, check out Ava DuVernay's film,  "13th" (2016), which is available on Netflix and other platforms.


Reader response 2 A due.  A-group upload your paper to Canvas by 1:30.

This response must treat one of the essays by Wallerstein. 2 pages.


Week 3 

Tuesday, April 14

Lecture and discussion on Wallerstein, Coates and Melamed—Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Jodi Melamed, "Racial Capitalism"

EVERYONE must post a discussion question on the readings prior to class.

Supplemental viewing:  

Teach-in on Covid-19,  Decarceration and Abolition with Ruth Wilson Gilmore  (Haymarket Books)


Thursday, April 16

Lecture and discussion of Eisenstein and Federici—Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Zillah Eisenstein, “Developing a Theory of Capitalist Patriarchy and Socialist Feminism”

Silvia Federici, "Wages Against Housework" and "Why Sexuality is Work"


Reader response 2B.  B-group upload your paper to Canvas by 1:30

This response must treat Eisenstein. 2 pages.


Week 4

Tuesday, April 21

Lecture and discussion of Wright—Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Melissa Wright, “The Dialectics of a Still Life:  Murder, Women and Disposability”


Reader response 3A. 

This response must treat Wright AND Eisenstein or Federici. 3 pages.


Thursday, April 23

Lecture and discussion of Hoang reading--Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Kimberly Kay Hoang, "Economies of Emotion, Familiarity, Fantasy, and Desire:  Emotional Labor in Ho Chi Minh City's Sex Industry"                           


Reader response 3B.

This response must treat Hoang AND Federici. 3 pages.


Unit 2:  Capitalism and Ideology                                                                 

Week 5

Tuesday, April 28

No Zoom meeting


Bong Joon-Ho dir. Parasite

The film is available on Netflix and other platforms

It is your responsibility to watch film prior to our Zoom meeting.  You must take viewing notes.  Please bring these notes to our Zoom discussion of the film.

An interesting article about the film to get you started: (Links to an external site.)


Reader response 4A and B due on Wednesday April 29, 9 am.

This response must be comparative and must treat Parasite in relation to ONE of the prior readings. 3 pages. 

See announcement for prompt for film responses.            


Thursday, April 30

Class discussion of film—Zoom meeting starts at 1:30

Everyone must come to Zoom prepared to contribute to a discussion on the film.  Have a copy of your viewing notes and your reader response handy. 


Week 6

Tuesday, May 5

Lecture on Marx’s Capital—Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Marx, Capital Volume One, Chapter 1

If you are feeling confused, check out this lecture (and the others in David Harvey's series): (Links to an external site.)


Thursday, May 7

Discussion on Capital—Zoom meeting starts at 1:30

Reader response 5A and B due

Everyone must write a response exclusively focused on the Capital. 2 pages


Unit 3:  Ideology, Literature and Culture

Week 7                                                                                    

Tuesday, May 12

Lecture and discussion on Althusser ISA essay--Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Louis Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”

Group B must post discussion questions based on the reading by 12-noon.


Thursday, May 14

Lecture and discussion on Althusser--Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Althusser, “A Letter on Art”

Group A must post discussion questions on the Althusser readings by 12-noon.


Week 8

Tuesday, May 19

Discussion of the film in relationship to Althusser readings--Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Exit Through the Gift Shop dir. by Banksy

The film is available on Netflix and other platforms.  It is your responsibility to view the film prior to class and to post your viewing notes in assignments.

Reader response 6 A and B due  

Everyone must write a response paper on the film the considers it in relation to Althusser’s ideas about ideology. 3 pages.


Thursday, May 21

Lecture on Raymond Williams and Keywords--Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Raymond Williams, “Introduction” to Keywords and select keyword entries on

“Art,” “Class,” and “Literature”          

Reader response 7B due 

This response must treat Keywords introduction in relationship to at least one of the keyword entries. 3 pages.


Week 9

Tuesday, May 26

Lecture and discussion on Marxism and Literature--Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Raymond Williams, Chapters 6, 8, and 9 from Marxism and Literature

 Reader response 7A due 

 This response must treat the relationships among the three chapters assigned from Marxism and Literature. 3 pages.


Thursday, May 28

Lecture and discussion on Ishiguro--Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go                     

Note:  You must read to page 115 (the start of Book II) prior to our first Zoom discussion of the novel. 

A-Group must post discussion questions and observations by 12-noon.


Week 10

Tuesday, June 2

Second discussion of novel--Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

NOTE: You must have completed your reading of the novel by this discussion.   

B-group post discussion questions and observations by 12-noon.                                                                   


Thursday, June 4

Complete discussion of the novel, tie up the course—Zoom meeting starts at 1:30


Herbert Marcuse, “Liberation from the Affluent Society”

Come prepared to discuss how this final reading shapes your understanding of the novel.


Please post any question you want answered during this final Zoom meeting on the discussion board by 12-midnight on Wednesday June 3rd.



Catalog Description: 
Introduces Marxist theory and methodology. Explores how and why Marx's writings, Marxist theory, and materialist methods became central to the study of literature and culture over the course of the twentieth century.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
March 2, 2020 - 10:50pm