English | Interdisciplinary Approaches to English and American Literature
L373 | 29005 | Richard Nash

Richard Nash

29005 - 1:25p-2:15p MWF (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.

TOPIC:  "Literature and Science: Animality and the PostHuman"

This course will take up the topic of recent theoretical
reconsiderations of Animality that have become increasingly
important within literary studies during the current posthuman
moment of cultural studies.  Our approach will be topical, cultural,
and historical in the broad sense of “modernity,” reading a variety
of texts both theoretical and literary.  We will work through some
fairly dense theoretical texts from Derrida, Levinas, Agamben and
Barad, but we will do so within the context of considering a wide
range of literary texts by Pope, Somerville, Wordsworth, Melville,
Faulkner, Dinesen, and Ozeki, among others.  Centering our semester-
long conversation will be a fundamental consideration at the heart
of education in the liberal arts: is humanism over?  And, if it is,
what do we wish to retain from it?  What do we wish to let go of?
And what new framework replaces it?  What does living in a posthuman
world do to the bedrock of humanism on which centuries of study in
the liberal arts have been predicated?  How does re-imagining our
place in the world under a paradigm of ecology prompt us to
reconsider “animality” in ways that may have been beyond the reach
of humanism?  Does such reconsideration generate new readings and
revaluations of texts whose reputations have been largely shaped by
earlier humanist discourse?  The goal of this course will be to
disrupt and destabilize many of the familiar expectations and
unexamined assumptions of literary study in the humanities, while at
the same time re-engaging with important texts in ways that might
stimulate new critical practices within an old and venerable
discipline.  Students will be responsible for two short papers and
one long paper and a lot of good discussion.