Fall 2021

Globe and Planet in Contemporary Literature

Listed in: English, as ENGL-494

Moodle site: Course


Anna J. Abramson (Section 01)


What does it mean to talk about literature as “global”? How do writers engage the idea of the globe politically, aesthetically, and environmentally?

This is a class about problems of scale and scope. We will consider how contemporary writers represent phenomena that cross national borders: particular attention will be paid to climate change, migration and immigration, the idea of the “global city,” war and terrorism, and the living legacies of colonialism, slavery, and diaspora. What are the formal and ethical challenges of thinking on a global scale? When thinking globally, how can we preserve awareness of local and historical differences? What are literary theorists saying about these questions today? Our readings will pair late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century fiction with critical and theoretical work drawn from ecocriticism and the environmental humanities, postcolonial studies, cultural studies, and so-called new global modernisms. This class will also emphasize the process and skills involved in upper-level literary analysis and research: we will experiment with a range of strategies for note-taking, making sense of dense texts, framing research questions, and finding openings and opportunities to engage in ongoing critical debates and conversations.

Possible authors include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Teju Cole, Mohsin Hamid, Jamaica Kincaid, Arundhati Roy, and W. G. Sebald.

Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Abramson.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to junior and senior majors.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Research, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021