ENG 223 American Literature I RELOADED
This course takes an innovative approach to the early American literature survey by using the lens of contemporary culture to study American texts in their social and cultural context. This semester, the lens is The Matrix trilogy plus The Animatrix, a collection of animated short films made in connection with the trilogy. Texts include American Literature I (William E Cain (ed), The Narrative (Frederick Douglass), The Coquette (Hannah Foster), Benito Cereno and Bartleby the Scrivner (Herman Melville) and Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe).
AMS 224 American Literature II
This course will introduce students to the American literary tradition within its social and cultural contexts from 1865 to the present. Students will engage in close reading of selected texts to stress the expansion of the American literary canon. Text includes Norton Anthology of American Literature (Nina Baym, ed).
ENG 255 Asian Film and Literature
This course examines Hong Kong, Japanese, Korean and Chinese film traditions as well as literature that informs them. This term, the course focus on the theme of loyalty using the classic 14th century Chinese novel, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and a variety of Hong Kong, Japanese and Korean films. Films include The Warlords, Election, Dragon Tiger Gate, Young and Dangerous 2, My Wife is a Gangster, Nana, Red Cliff 1 and 2, Once Upon a Time in China, Fist of Fury, 2009: Lost Memories, and JSA: Joint Security Area.
ENG 355 Harlem Renaissance
Parties. Politics. Polite conversation. These are just a few things that reflect the complexities of The Harlem Renaissance, one of the most significant cultural and political movements in the United States, a movement that was neither confined to Harlem, nor a renaissance of African American writing. The course will interrogate the interracial and transnational elements of the movement through images and texts, especially the impact of Mexico, Africa and Asia on creative and cultural production. Texts include Quicksand and Passing (Nella Larsen), Dark Princess (W.E.B. Du Bois), Nigger Heaven (Carl Van Vechten), Black No More (George Schuyler) and The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader (David Levering Lewis, ed).
ENG/AMS 370 Atlantic World, 1440-1880
Gold. Pirates. Adventure on the high seas. Political intrigue. Is this the plot of the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie? No, this is the complex world of the Atlantic from 1440 to 1880. Pilgrims and Puritans make up only part of this story, because for most of the early American experience, the country perceives itself and is perceived as part of the larger physical and intellectual geography that borders the Atlantic Ocean. Fueled by dreams of treasure, empire and religious conversion, European explorers, merchants, seaman and others explored both sides of the Atlantic in search of a combination of these. In desperate efforts to find better routes to the riches to Asia, these individuals included the continent of Africa in their travels, and later in the era, forced and voluntary migrations from Africa contributed to the Atlantic word. At the same time, well-established indigenous cultures encountered this variety of “new peoples” in a variety of ways ranging from acceptance to rebellion. Until the 19th century, the Atlantic world has a profound effect on the development of the history and culture of the United States. Texts include The English Literatures of America: 1500-1800 (Myra Jehlen and Michael Warner, eds) and The Tempest (Shakespeare).
AMS 210: Concepts in American Studies
In this course, students will study the development of American studies, the interdisciplinary study of American culture, as an academic field, with a special focus on its interdisciplinary methods. They will also use this knowledge in practical application to various aspects of American culture throughout history. Through fiction, films, visual and popular culture, historical documents and critical readings, students will learn to critically analyze various aspects of American culture, both within and outside the United States in ways that will complement their established disciplinary interests. Texts include Ragtime (E.L. Doctorow), A Documentary History of the United States (Richard Hefner) and Locating American Studies: The Evolution of a Discipline (Lucy Maddox, ed).
University of Kansas
AMS 344 Case Study in American Studies: Visual Culture and the Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance is one of the most popular artistic movements in the African American cultural tradition, and visual culture figures prominently into it. One of the motivating factors in the development of the movement was a response of images of African Americans in the larger culture, mostly created by individuals who were not African Americans and who did not acknowledge the humanity, let alone the creative potential, of the descendents of Africans. So, much of the visual cultural production of this artistic movement engages the impact of existing images of American blacks. Even as we discern the recurrent debates among African American artists regarding the direction and content of the Renaissance, we will also consider how white American, European and other cultural influences impact those artists. This course takes an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural exploration of this artistic movement through the lens of visual culture. It will make extensive use of the Aaron Douglas exhibit at the Spencer Art Museum. Texts include Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance (Richard Powell, ed).
AMS 550 Research in American Studies: Speculative Fiction in American Culture
The American Studies research seminar explores research methods through which knowledge is produced about “America” and “American” peoples American studies. This semester, the course will use the theme of speculative fiction to explore various facets of American culture. Speculative fiction, which includes the genres of fantasy, science fiction, mystery and horror, are often set in improbable settings, but almost always reflect social issues in American society. These genres are linked by one premise: what if? Using fiction, films, and television series, this course will explore how shifts in American culture inform speculative fiction. Texts include Looking Backward (Edward Bellamy). Films include The Day the Earth Stood Still, Them!, Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Logan’s Run, Alien, Minority Report, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, Blade Runner, Animatrix: Second Renaissance I and II. Television series include Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, X-Files, and The Twilight Zone.
ENG 327 African American Fiction: Dark Laughter: African American Satire
African American literature features a long tradition of satire aimed not just at the society at large, but at sectors of African American society as well. In this course, students will explore a variety of examples of satire, both in the novel and in other mediums, including film, art and comics. We will also explore the potential limits of satire as social commentary and call to action as well as the ways in which satire may be misunderstood. Texts include The White Boy Shuffle (Paul Beatty), Right Here, Right Now (Trey Ellis), The Return of Simple (Langston Hughes), The Cotillion (John O. Killens), Japanese By Spring (Ishmael Reed), Black No More (George Schuyler) and Infants of the Spring (Wallace Thurman).
ENG 327 African American Fiction: The Lower Frequencies: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and the Black Literary Tradition
Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man, is a signature African American text for several reasons. It utilizes vernacular creative forms that precede it, like folktales and the blues. It partakes of the literary tradition that comes before it by “speaking” to writers like Arna Bontemps, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Rudolph Fisher, Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright. It influences the texts that follow it, fiction by writers like Chester Himes, Leon Forrest, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Albert Murray and Toni Cade Bambara. This course will investigate the literary impact of Ellison’s timeless novel on the African American literary tradition, and vice versa. Texts include Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison), Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man: A Casebook (John Callahan), Black American Short Stories: A Century of the Best (John Henrik Clarke), Calling the Wind: Twentieth Century African American Short Stories (Clarence Major) and Cultural Contexts for Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (Eric Sundquist).
ENG 328 African American Poetry: The Function of Black Art
The first decades of the 20th century witnesses two approaches to the nature of art. On one hand, ‘art for art’s sake’ demands that art be appreciated for its beauty. On the other hand, ‘art as propaganda’ insists that art function to educate, illuminate and cause societal change. African American artists have long wrestled between these two orientations. This course will examine how various black poets resolve this dilemma by taking a chronological look at the tradition. Our study of black poetry will focus both the literary and performative aspect of the work. In addition, this course will consider recurrent themes and topics in the poetry, the changing use of language, and the impact of other creative forms on African American poetry. Texts include The Vintage Book of African American Poetry (Michael S. Harper and Anthony Walton, eds) and Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices (William Packard).
ENG 328 African American Poetry: Genius Does Not Grow on Trees: Legacies in African American Poetry
In this class, we will undertake a study of African American poetry from the beginning to the present, paying special attention to the way more contemporary poets adopt and adapt the aesthetics and subject matter of earlier poets of color. Many people tend to divide African American poetry into two entirely separate camps: the hip, new, socially relevant sensibility of spoken word and the old-school, tired, and inconsequential world of poets before the 1960s. The African American poetic tradition, like genius in Al Young’s poem, does not grow on trees. Rather than a haphazard and accidental phenomenon, the tradition represents the development of an African American cultural form passed down from generation to generation that deserves to be studied. Moreover, black poets have invoked a number of other literary influences in their work from a variety of cultures, including Asian and African. Spoken word owes it “a million love dollars” for preserving an art form that greatly informs its own movement. Instead of divorcing black poetry from other traditions, this course will reveal the continuity between generations of poets from a variety of traditions and provide students with a critical vocabulary to describe that continuity. Texts include The Spoken Word Revolution: Slam, Hip Hop and the Poetry of a New Generation (Mark Eleveld, ed), Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present (Joanne V. Gabbin, ed), The Vintage Book of African American Poetry (Michael Harper, ed).
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