ENGL 198 A- Z - (LT) Special Studies in Literature
Semester Hours: 3
Each semester, the department offers several “special studies” courses. These courses deal with specific issues, themes, genres, and authors. Intensive study of major authors and/or literary themes. Subjects to be selected yearly.
Current Special Topics
ENGL 198L: Literature, Trama & Climate Crisis
This course centers on an urgent question: since we know the climate crisis will mean global catastrophe unless we very quickly mount a meaningful response, why have we so far utterly failed to do so? We’ll approach that question in light of the growth, over the past few decades, of a cultural interest in trauma, especially the development of “trauma theory” and of what we might call the literature of trauma. This will help us consider, for example, what kind of knowledge is at stake when we say we “know” that catastrophe will follow from inadequate action; what does it mean, that is, to become aware of reality if such awareness challenges your capacity to process what you see? We’ll read some trauma theory (from, for example, Cathy Caruth’s Unclaimed Experience and Roger Luckhurst’s The Trauma Question), but will focus mostly on works of literature. For the most part, these won’t engage climate change per se, but will be texts that struggle with trying to give shape and meaning to experiences that seem, by definition, to defy such attempts. In addition to selections from trauma theory, possible readings include W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, D. M. Thomas’s The White Hotel, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus (texts that grapple with the problem of representing “the Holocaust”), Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (grappling with how to represent a nuclear apocalypse, and the consequent climate change), and Toni Morrison’s Beloved (grappling with how to represent knowledge of slavery). We’ll also compare such attempts to formulate traumatic knowledge with the sort of widespread representations of climate change that construct it in the public sphere.
Cross-listed with AMST 145E (93606).
WSC 001. The topics of the “special studies” courses change every semester. Please consult the English Department Course Description Booklet for topics offered in a particular semester. (Formerly Readings in Literature or Special Studies.)
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