Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Fall Syllabus #2: ENGLISH 3000: Utopia in America!

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And here’s the other course for this fall, “ENGLISH 3000: Utopia in America.” Like the Watchmen class, it will be using a mix of synchronous and asynchronous instruction to muddle through this weird semester…

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, China Miéville, Derrick Bell, Toni Morrison, Ursula K. Le Guin, and N.K. Jemisin — 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, and Octavia E. Butler.

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

W Aug 26 S FIRST DAY OF CLASS

Introduction to the Course

What Is Utopia?

F Aug 28 A New Criticism

How to Interpret Literature: “New Criticism”

Robert Frost, “Mending Wall” [D2L]

M Aug 31 S Sir Thomas More, Utopia, “Concerning” and Book One
W Sep 2 S Sir Thomas More, Utopia, Book Two
F Sep 4 A China Miéville, Introduction to Utopia (2017): “Close to the

Shore” and “The Limits of Utopia”

M Sep 7   LABOR DAY—NO CLASS
W Sep 9 S Structuralism

How to Interpret Literature: “Structuralism”

Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” [D2L]

F Sep 11 A Intertextuality

N.K. Jemisin, reply to Le Guin [Web]

M Sep 14 S Marxism

How to Interpret Literature: “Marxism”

Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels, “The Communist Manifesto” [Web]

Mark Bould, “The Futures Market: American Utopias” [D2L]

W Sep 16 S Utopia

Fredric Jameson, “Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture” (first half; second half optional) [D2L]

Black Mirror: “San Junipero” [Netflix]

F Sep 18 A Sandbox: Fredric Jameson, “Utopia as Replication” [D2L]
M Sep 21 S Postcoloniality and Race Studies

How to Interpret Literature: “Postcolonial and Race Studies”

Derrick Bell, “The Space Traders” [D2L]

W Sep 23 S Toni Morrison, “Recitatif” [D2L]

Toni Morrison, excerpt from Playing in the Dark [D2L]

F Sep 25 A Sandbox: #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus [Web]
M Sep 28 S Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 1
W Sep 30 S One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapters 2-3
F Oct 2 A Sandbox: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapters 4-6
M Oct 5 S One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapters 7-9
W Oct 7 S One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapters 10-12
F Oct 9 A Sandbox: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapters 13-15
M Oct 12 S One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapters 16-18
W Oct 14 S One Hundred Years of Solitude, whole book

Gabriel García Márquez, “The Solitude of Latin America” [Web]

Gregory Lawrence, “Marx in Macondo” [D2L]

F Oct 16   FALL BREAK—NO CLASS
M Oct 19 S Feminism

How to Interpret Literature: “Feminism”

Karen Joy Fowler, “Game Night at the Fox and Goose” [D2L]

W Oct 21 S Sexuality

How to Interpret Literature: “Queer Studies”

Alice Sheldon as James Tiptree, Jr., “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” [D2L]

F Oct 23 A Sandbox: Octavia E. Butler, “Bloodchild
M Oct 26 S Environmental Studies

How to Interpret Literature: “Environmental Criticism”

Ramin Bahrani, “Plastic Bag” [YouTube]

W Oct 28 S Disability Studies

How to Interpret Literature: “Disability Studies”

Octavia E. Butler, “The Evening and the Morning and the Night”

Octavia E. Butler, “Speech Sounds”

F Oct 30 A Sandbox: Octavia E. Butler, “The Book of Martha”
M Nov 2 S Historicism and Cultural Studies

How to Interpret Literature: “Historicism and Cultural Studies”

Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire, “Foreword” and “Pale Fire”

W Nov 4 S Pale Fire, “Foreword and “Pale Fire” continued
F Nov 6 A Sandbox
M Nov 9 S Pale Fire, Commentary, Canto I
W Nov 11 S Pale Fire, Commentary, Canto II
F Nov 13 A Sandbox
M Nov 16 S Pale Fire, Commentary, Canto III
W Nov 18 S Pale Fire, Commentary, Canto IV (including index)
F Nov 20 A Reader Response

How to Interpret Literature: “Reader Response”

Pale Fire, whole book and interpretations

M Nov 23 S FINAL PROJECT WORKSHOP
F Dec 4

5:30 PM

  FINAL PROJECT DUE IN D2L DROPBOX

 

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