English | Studies in British and American Authors
L369 | 26258 | Shane Vogel


L369 26258 STUDIES IN BRITISH AND AMERICAN AUTHORS
Shane Vogel

2:30p-3:45p TR (30 students) 3 cr. A&H.

TOPIC:  “Global O’Neill”

This class will provide a rigorous and comprehensive investigation
into the work and life of Eugene O’Neill (and a handful of his
contemporaries). O’Neill was the only American dramatist to win the
Nobel Prize in Literature, the highest international achievement in
arts and letters. His great masterpiece—A Long Day’s Journey into
Night, a deep exploration of American immigration and familial
dysfunction—was first staged in Sweden, of all places (in part
because his widow violated his dying wishes to not stage the play
until 25 years had passed from his death). And throughout his plays
he repeatedly turns to global geographies in order to stage his own
understanding of American identity in the modern world. His plays
map locations such as Tibet, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific;
China, South Africa, and Mexico; and the waterways that connected
these various terrains and in the waterfronts that served as their
points of entry and departure. O’Neill’s own socialist commitments,
preoccupation with immigrant experiences, and Irish roots will lead
us to understand his global vision as something more than an
Orientalizing or primitivist modern fascination. Organizing our
approach to O’Neill’s work around this global mapping, we will
address questions of time, temporality, and history, asking (1) how
O’Neill instantiates a modern tempo and temper through and over the
tempos and tempers of other areas of the globe, and (2) how his
global vision—sometimes an imperial vision, sometimes an anti-
colonial vision—underwrites American modernity and its theatre.
Reading will be heavy—one long play or several short plays a week,
plus significant supplementary critical and theoretical readings—but
enjoyable and fascinating. In addition, you will be expected to
write weekly response papers, conduct independent research, and
complete two formal papers over the semester. You will come away
from this course not only with a thorough understanding of the work
of Eugene O’Neill, but a notion of the global consciousness, one
both distorting and inventive, at the origins of modern American
drama.