Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Spring 2022 Courses!

leave a comment »

Marquette’s English department has put up its course descriptions for the spring, which you can find here: https://www.marquette.edu/english/courses-offered-spring-2022.php

Here are mine!

ENGLISH 4762/5762: Neuroscience and Literature
101 TuTh 9:30-10:45 Professor Gerry Canavan

Course Title: Disability and Narrative

Course Description: From the Shakespearean soliloquy (famously credited by Yale’s Harold Bloom with “the invention of the human” as such) to James Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness narration, and beyond, literature has long been fascinated by the inner workings of the mind, and the so-called “cognitive turn” in literary studies of the 2000s created a vast subfield devoted to understanding these representations with more specificity and in more detail. Marquette’s new “Neuroscience and Literature” course, included in the Cognitive Science interdisciplinary major, draws on this critical archive to explore how literature understands consciousness, particularly in the way literature has posited disability and neurodivergence. Narratives about disability follow predictable and often quite hurtful patterns, typically centering compulsory optimism around concepts like “cure” and “inspiration,” or else fixating on inexorable decline—but emerging narratives about neurodivergence also register the efforts of social and political movements to expand awareness about the lives of people whose minds and brains are not neurotypical, and to change social structures, especially in education and medicine, in order to improve the quality of those lives. In literary terms, representing neurodiversity raises questions such as: What narrative strategies do writers use to represent various ways of perceiving the world? What are autistic voices, or amnesiac voices, Tourettic voices, sociopathic voices? Do these differ, and in what ways, from so-called neurotypical voices? How do fictional voices compare to autobiographical ones? How does centering neurodivergence impact the way we tell and understand stories? Modules in the course will pair scientific and therapeutic writing with literary examples that center the lived experiences of disabled people. 

Readings: The final reading list is still being developed, but this semester’s reading list will likely focus on autism, Huntington’s disease, addiction, and depression. Readings will be balanced among fiction, memoir/nonfiction, popular science writing, and literary and philosophical theory around disability studies. Interested students are invited to contact the instructor in advance of registration to discuss material that will be studied in the course.

Assignments: Enthusiastic class discussion; two papers and one final project; online discussion posts; presentations 

ENGLISH 4717/5717: Comics
101 TuTh 11:00-12:30 Professor Gerry Canavan

Course Title: Comics as Literature
Fulfills English Major Requirement:  Post-1900
Discovery Tier: Cognition, Memory, and Intelligence

Course Description: This course surveys the history and reception of comics and graphic narrative since 1945. We will explore the history of the comics form from its origins to the present moment, watching as the medium shifts from a predominantly American, predominantly male fixation on the superhero towards an increasingly popular international art movement crossing gender, class, and ethnic lines. What are comics today, and who are they for—and why, as Thierry Groensteen has pointedly asked, are comics still in search of cultural legitimization? As in previous instances of the course, we will consider science fictional and superheroic comics alongside high literary novels and confessional autobiographies to gain a full understanding of the medium and its possibilities. In addition to studying comics as literary scholars, along the way we will also consider alternative modes of comics reception, including the great comic book panic of the 1950s, the underground “hippie” counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, film and television adaptation, and Internet fandom today.

Readings: I will poll the class for their particular interests once registration is done but core texts I have taught in this course in the past include Warren Ellis and John Cassady’s Planetary; Mark Millar and Dave Johnson’s Superman: Red Son; G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel; Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead; Art Spiegelman’s Maus I and II; Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home; Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and Building Stories; Ben Passmore’s “Your Black Friend”; Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolis; David Mazzuchelli’s Asterios Polyp; Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon’s Daytripper; and Richard McGuire’s Here. I am, of course, always open to suggestions of new texts.

Assignments: Enthusiastic class discussion; two papers and one final project; online discussion posts; presentations

Written by gerrycanavan

October 26, 2021 at 8:18 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: