Listed in: English, as ENGL-296
Geoffrey D. Sanborn (Section 01)
The premise of this course is that ecological thinking is now an essential foundation of literary studies. Our primary focus will be on the way in which literature interacts with biology–with, in Elizabeth Grosz’s words, “a system of (physical, chemical, organic) differences that engenders historical, social, cultural, and sexual differences.” Through a not-only-intellectual immersion in the reading and discussion of a range of literary works, including Frankenstein, Walden, Dickinson’s poems, Kafka’s stories, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Winter in the Blood, we will develop an understanding of literature as, among other things, an expression and extension of life as such. Along the way, we will ask questions like these: What happens to our understanding of literature if we accept that it has emerged from a non-personal, non-teleological process of evolution? What happens to our understanding of authorship if we accept that human animals are neither autonomous nor self-governing? And what might happen if we were to think of individual works of literature as ways of getting closer, conceptually and sensually, to life, to the difference-making process within which we all find ourselves?
Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Sanborn.