Fall 2015

The Confession:  Theory and Practice

Listed in: English, as ENGL-477  |  Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-455


Pooja G. Rangan (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 477 and FAMS 455.)  Confession is arguably central to expressions of postmodern selfhood in TV talk shows, YouTube videos, tweets, and Facebook updates. It also informs the evidentiary logic of our civil apparatuses (legal, medical, humanitarian) and infuses the fabric of our diplomatic, familial, and intimate relations. Indeed, we might say that the confession is the preeminent practice through which we understand the “truth” of our selves.This course investigates the many meanings and itineraries of the confession. We will focus on the various institutional sites that have shaped confessional regimes of truth (such as the church, the school, the clinic, the prison, the courtroom), as well as the role of media forms (from autobiographical video to cinematic melodrama and reality television) in consolidating and challenging these regimes. Readings and assignments emphasize a twinned engagement with media and cultural theory. Topics include: narratives on coming-out, truth and reconciliation, hysteria, torture, the female orgasm, insanity defenses, and racial passing. One two hour-and-forty-minute class meeting and one screening per week.

Requisite:  At least one foundational course in FAMS or equivalent introductory film course, plus any one course in cultural studies/literary theory/gender studies/race and ethnicity studies.  Open to juniors and seniors.  Limited to 18 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Rangan.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to junior and senior English and FAMS majors.


Attention to Research, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Spring 2019, Fall 2022