English | Special Studies in English & American Literature
L780 | TBA | Comentale

Special Studies in English & American Literature

9:30p – 12:30p T


This course will attempt to shift the study of modernism away from
its presumed “crisis of language” to a slightly different crisis of
articulation. We will pursue “epic” theories of modernity as they
wrestle not just with signifying systems, but with the act of
signification itself and the larger problematic of mediation. We
will explore a range of twentieth-century signifying
practices/events, both within and beyond the domain of print
culture, as they take form as writing, speech, song, dance,
photography, etc. Throughout, we will pay attention to the evolving
role of the body in discourse, and we will wrestle with current
definitions and defenses of affect and gesture as they supplement
and/or complicate the notion of modernity as a specifically humanist

This is largely a course in theory, and our syllabus will be
composed of a few broadly significant, but highly demanding texts
(Dialectic of Enlightenment; A Thousand Plateaus; Four Fundamental
Concepts of Psychoanalysis; Homo Sacer.) Towards the end of the
course, we will select a couple of appropriate fictional writings
(Absalom, Absalom! immediately comes to mind as a possibility), and
students will be responsible for theorizing ways of applying our
research to specifically literary models. Finally, at the end of the
semester, students will be required to produce an article-length
paper (20-25) that connects the course’s themes to their own
scholarly interests and investments.