Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Upcoming English Courses at Marquette! “Utopia in America” and “Watchmen”

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Descriptions for the upcoming courses for Fall 2020 are up at the English department website. Here are mine:

ENGLISH 3000: CRITICAL PRACTICES AND PROCESSES IN LITERARY STUDIES

101 MWF 11:00-11:50 Professor Gerry Canavan

Course Title:  Utopia in America

Course Description: 2020 marks the 505th anniversary of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, which inaugurated a genre of political and social speculation that continues to structure our imagination of what is possible. This course serves as an entry point for advanced study in the English discipline, using depictions of political utopias from antiquity to the present as a way to explore how both literature and literary criticism do their work. We will study utopia in canonical historical literature, in contemporary pop culture, and in the presidential election, as well as utopian critical theory from major thinkers like Fredric Jameson, Donna Haraway, Margaret Atwood, and Ursula K. Le Guin — but the major task before us will be exploring the role utopian, quasi-utopian, dystopian, and downright anti-utopian figurations have played in the work of major authors of the 20th century, among them Gabriel García Márquez, Vladimir Nabokov, Flannery O’Connor, Toni Morrison, Octavia E. Butler, and Philip K. Dick.

Assignments: Class participation, including individual and group presentations; discussion posts; three papers. Students will also construct their own utopian manifesto.

ENGLISH 4717/5717: COMICS AND GRAPHIC NARRATIVE

101 MWF 12:00-12:50 Professor Gerry Canavan

Course Title:  Watchmen

Course Description: This course surveys the history, reception, and artistic form of comics and graphic narrative in the United States, with primary exploration of a single comic miniseries that has had a massive influence on the comics industry and on the way we think about superheroes: Alan Moore and David Gibbons’s Watchmen (1986-1987)This semester ENGLISH 4717 will function almost like a single-novel “Text in Context” course; after grounding ourselves in the pre-1980s history of American superhero comics over the first few weeks of the course, we will focusing almost exclusively on Watchmen and its long afterlife in prequel comics, sequel comics, parody comics, homages, critiques, film adaptations, and, most recently, the critically acclaimed HBO sequel series (2019-2020). What has made Watchmen so beloved, so controversial, and so very influential on the larger superhero-industrial-entertainment complex? Why has DC Comics returned to Watchmen again and again, even as one of its original creators has distanced himself further and further from the work? What have different creators done, or tried to do, with the complex but self-contained narrative framework originally constructed by Moore and Gibbons? With superheroes and superhero media more globally hegemonic than ever before, what might Watchmen still have to say to us today?

Assignments: Class participation, including individual and group presentations; weekly reading journal; discussion posts; several out-of-class film screenings; one long seminar paper, several shorter papers, or creative/curational project

Written by gerrycanavan

February 28, 2020 at 4:31 pm

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