ENGL 383 - English Seminar
Semester Offered: Spring
Topic for 2019/20b: Sibling Theory. What role do siblings play in literature (and in our lives)? Are these characters secondary, incidental, merely complements to a protagonist—the organizing central consciousness—of a novel? Do they appear in poetry only as companions or sidekicks? Or, perhaps, do sibling relations offer a different set of tools for cultivating ways of knowing and being in the world that extend beyond, and even counter, the idea of a single, autonomous self?
In this course, we will investigate the kinship of brothers and sisters in British and American fiction and poetry from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. To inform our literary explorations, we will look at recent feminist and queer critiques of scholarly thinking about the family, kinship, and marriage, critiques that have at times turned to siblinghood as an alternate locus for the development of identity, culture, ethics, and politics. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, we will explore research in fields such as gender studies, philosophy, psychoanalysis, history, and sociology to help us inquire how siblinghood acts as a form of networked and collective existence, and how these networks confront previous paradigms of the family that are structured as reproductive, patriarchal, and linear.
Fictional texts for the course may include, but are not limited to, Antigone, Sense and Sensibility, Wuthering Heights, The Mill on the Floss, Franny and Zooey, Atonement, and The Royal Tenenbaums, which we will read in tandem with feminist and queer scholarship (e.g., Gayle Rubin, Judith Butler, Eve Sedgwick, Leonore Davidoff, Juliet Mitchell) that challenges prior twentieth-century theories on kinship (Freud, Lacan, Levi-Strauss). Talia Vestri
Course Format: CLS
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