English | Studies in International English Literature
L674 | 24784 | Bose

9:30a – 10:45a TR


The contemporary configuration of capital, most notably through the
processes of globalization and the consolidation of wealth in
transnational corporations, has had a profound impact on the
quotidian lives of many people around the world.  Globalization over
the last three decades has meant greater economic differentiation
and increased social stratification between the producers of
commodities and their consumers.  The statistics on global poverty
are particularly sobering:  according to the United Nations Human
Development Report, over 1.4 billion people in the world live in
abject poverty, surviving on less than one dollar a day; another 3.3
billion people live in extreme poverty.  Yet even as “history” is
experienced as a form of “trauma” for a significant number of
individuals in the world, it has ceased to function, in popular
culture and cultural theory, as a significant category for
understanding the lives of others.  By reading and analyzing novels,
films, and theories of globalization, this course will to address
two primary questions about oppositional critical practices:  1)
what kinds of historical understanding can be gleaned from mass and
commodity culture?; 2) and what sorts of critical maneuvers are
required to read these representations historically?  In other
words, can representations be made to disclose the archives of human
experiences and, more specifically, of the historical trauma that
often underwrite them?

Outside the academy, the relative merits and demerits
of “globalization” dominate much of the contemporary discourse of
politics in the US.  As media pundits and scholars ponder the
consequences of the consolidation of capital in transnational
corporations and the dissolution of the importance of the nation-
state, little attention has been paid to the relationship between
globalization and gender.  Yet as Annette Fuentes and Barbara
Ehrenreich emphasize, globalization is a feminist issue insofar as
processes of globalization are underwritten by an “international
traffic in women.”  “Crudely put,” Fuentes and Ehrenreich note, “the
relationship between many governments and multinational corporations
is like that of a pimp and his customers.  The governments advertise
their women, sell them and keep them in line for the
multinational ‘johns’.”  The global economy positions women in
contradictory ways:  while they comprise the most impoverished
workforce, they are also interpellated as consumers of goods
produced under exploitative conditions.  In addition, women, and
their images, often function as commodities in the global economy.
We will organize our study around four themes:  women as workers,
women as consumers, women as commodities, and women as activists.
Students should expect to participate actively in class discussion,
submit weekly online short essays, and make one oral presentation. A
tentative list of readings and films includes,

_Fresh Kill_
_Fast Food Women_
_A.R.M. Around Moscow_
_The Corporation_
_Avon Goes to the Amazon_
Jefferson Cowie, _Capital Moves : RCA's 70-Year Quest for Cheap
Annette Fuentes and Barabara Ehrenreich, _Women in the Global
Robin Hahnel, _Panic Rules! Everything You Need to Know About the
Global Economy_
Roger King, _A Girl From Zanzibar_
Max Barry, _Jennifer Government_
Jessica Hagedorn, _Dogeaters_
Peter Hoag, Smilla’s _Sense of Snow_
Jane Smiley, _Moo_
Theory selections from Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Aijaz Ahmad,
Saskia Sassen, Samir Amin, Daniel Singer, Masao Miyoshi, Annette
Fuentes and Barbara and Zygmunt Bauman.

Textbooks will most likely be available at Boxcar Books at the
corner of Third Street and Washington.