Mar 06, 2021  
Catalogue 2020-2021 
    
Catalogue 2020-2021
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ENGL 365 - Selected Author

Semester Offered: Spring
1 unit(s)
Study of the work of a single author. The work may be read in relation to literary predecessors and descendants as well as in relation to the history of the writer’s critical and popular reception. This course alternates from year to year with ENGL 265 . Heesok Chang.

Topic for 2020/21a: Virginia Woolf. Virginia Woolf seems more like our contemporary than any other British modernist. A scathing and often hilarious critic of patriarchy, her writing is free of the vexing misogyny that dates the work of her male counterparts. She treats women’s quotidian experiences - their travails, but also their pleasures - as subjects of universal artistic concern. Her detailed explorations of the flux of consciousness and the intricate nature of memory continue to resonate in our confessional culture. But so to do her queer attempts to get beyond both the dreary offices of gender and the pondering of one’s own uniqueness. Against the grain of her reputation as a chronicler of the inner life, her writing focuses the mundane object-world in new and unfamiliar ways and probes the elusive nature of our social tie, our being-in-common. Like Freud, she tried in her late work to imagine what a civilized society might look like in an era of unprecedented barbarity, when appeals to collective existence were being marshaled under the banners of jingoism, imperialism, militarism, and fascism. Perhaps her most urgent lesson for us, however, is neither strictly “personal” nor “political”: Woolf made powerful pleas for our right to privacy and anonymity, for the freedom to think about nothing in particular and to do so without interruption in a room of one’s own. On the other hand, no one did more than she to invent her readership and to secure her afterlife as a literary celebrity: no reading of Woolf is quite separable from the life and the legend, the fallacy and the figment, of the author. In addition to reading her novels, we sample her short fiction, essays, memoirs, diaries, and letters. Heesok Chang.

One 2-hour period.

Course Format: CLS



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