English 523: Introduction to Old English Language and Literature
This course is for students who are fascinated with words and language. In it we will read and study some of the earliest surviving texts in English in their original form, examining Old English prose and verse from the ground up. We will begin the course by learning about the language and reading simple prose passages; then we will look further at Old English grammar and syntax as questions arise from the readings. We will also study some of the great poetry of the period, including the Dream of the Rood, “Wanderer,” “Seafarer,” and selections from Beowulf. Topics that may be explored in presentations or papers include translation/ modernization; rhetorical and literary devices in Old English; teaching early literature; and the continuing influence of landmarks like Beowulf in our time. Course requirements will include a few quizzes, translations, a survey of secondary material on a topic related to Old English, an in-class report, and two papers or projects. ** This course fulfills a requirement for students in RPC and can be a language or a literature course for students in the literature M.A.
English 543: The Study of Environmental Literature
Becoming Beast: The Humanimal in the Age of Biotechnology and Escalating Ecological Crisis
This semester we will tackle four theories within the growing field of the Environmental Humanities—Ecofeminism, Environmental Justice, and Trans- and Post-humanism—to ask: what does it mean to be human in the age of escalating ecological crisis? What does it mean to be animal? Through what ideological and political mechanisms are some considered more human, or more animal, than others? How do emerging practices in the biosciences—particularly bio-engineering and genetic manipulation—trouble the boundary between human and non-human? How can we talk about ethics or social justice when it comes to our treatment of our environment, of animals, and of other (human) beings? Might it be true that in the age of climate change we are all just so many beasts slouching toward extinction? Might this demand that we re-think what it means to be human immediately? The texts are largely from the late 20th– and early 21st-century, and may include Animal’s People by Indra Sinha (2009), The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (2010), Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2004), Mama Day by Gloria Naylor (1989), Tracks by Louise Erdrich (1989), Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (2010), A State of Wonder by Ann Pachet (2014), Tropic of Orange by Karen Tai Yamashita (1997), Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008), Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (2012), and Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena Maria Viramontes (1996).
English 562X: Topics in the Study of Film
Found Footage Films
In the early 20th century, Marcel Duchamp revolutionized art by recontextualizing ordinary objects, thus pioneering the development of the ready-made or objet trouvé (found object). Following Duchamp’s lead, a number of filmmakers have made cameraless films using only found footage. In other words, these artists have repurposed segments from pre-existing films, embracing an aesthetic of appropriation and collage. This course will attempt to explore the questions implicitly posed by these radical experiments. Can a found footage film be “original”? Is found footage filmmaking a form of theft? How do such works complicate traditional notions of authorship? To what extent are contemporary viral videos (such as mashups and supercuts) manifestations of the found footage aesthetic? Films screened will include works by Joseph Cornell, Bruce Conner, Peter Tscherkassky, Martin Arnold, and Bill Morrison.