Literature and Society (3 per semester, maximum of 6) Texts confronting social, political, technological, or other issues in the English-speaking world. (Section subtitles may appear in the Schedule of Courses.)
ENGL 402 Literature and Society (3)
(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.
One variation will focus on Literature and Censorship by first considering general arguments for and against censorship and then by examining texts by writers who sought publication in their own country but whose books were censored or banned. The course will consider such questions as, Are there ever legitimate grounds for censorship? How do standards of censorship differ between countries? What is the relation between censorship on political and on moral grounds? What does artistic merit have to do with concern about moral or political subversion? Works from England, South Africa and the United States will be read and discussed, and where available, excerpts from trial transcripts will be read in order to examine arguments for and against publication. Readings will include works by Milton, D. H. Lawrence, Alan Paton, Nadine Gordimer, Athol Fugard, Eugene O'Neill, Henry Miller, and Alan Ginsberg.
Another variation will focus on war and gender in 20th century American literature by examining the ways male and female authors write about war. Texts will vary from battlefield experiences to repercussions of war to the symbolic implications of war. Questions will be raised about literary authority: Does one need to be combatant to write about war? If not, how does one find the authority to speak, particularly as a woman? How does race and/or ethnicity complicate one's perceptions of American participation in war? Readings will include works by Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Joseph Heller, Cynthia Ozick, Leslie Marmon Silko, Norman Mailer, Bobbie Mason, Tim O'Brien, and Toni Morrison.
Another variation will focus specifically on the writings which emerged from the postwar African-American struggle for civil rights. The course will include not only fiction and poetry but also those speeches, sermons, editorials, and other forms of discourse to have emerged from the era. The emphasis will be both traditional literary concerns as well as on the various rhetorical strategies involved in each work. Ideally, the course would make visible to students the difficulties attendant upon any attempt to separate the concerns of rhetoric and persuasion too firmly from the concerns of literature. The course could conclude with a look at some of the various biographies, autobiographies, and histories written over the last twenty-five years, which attempt to shape our national memory.
Other variations include literature as a response to Newtonian science or to Darwinism or to the American Depression or to postwar technology or to new dystopias or to AIDS or, as in the sample outline, the Civil Rights movement.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.