Fall 2017  -  Get temporary access to course materials (Amherst College and Five-college students only)

The Value of Literature

Listed in: English, as ENGL-453

Moodle site: Course

Faculty

Geoffrey D. Sanborn (Section 01)

Description

Why, Rita Felski asks, are people “willing to drive five hundred miles to hear a band playing a certain song, or spend years in graduate school puzzling over a single novel?”  Concepts like “cultural capital,” “the hegemonic media industry,” or “interpretive communities” do not fully explain “why it is this particular tune that plays over and over in our heads, why it is Virginia Woolf alone who becomes an object of obsession.”  Something else has to be involved, a “rogue something,” in the words of Toni Morrison’s narrator in Jazz, that you “have to figure in before you can figure it out.”  In this seminar, students will first explore the phenomenon of aesthetic valuation, then turn to a consideration of when, why, and for whom literary experiences are valuable, and finally embark on independent research projects in which each of them studies a single author in depth and experiments with ways of articulating (in a class presentation and in a final essay) the kinds of value that that author may be said to have.

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Open to juniors and seniors.  Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Sanborn.

If Overenrolled: Consent required. Priority will be given to the students who offer the most compelling written rationales for admission.

Keywords

Attention to Research, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing

Offerings

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017