Literature and Cultural Studies: Racialized Conceptions of the Past in Narrative (Literature 499)

 

Schedule:

 

Meeting One:

            Sigmund Freud, “Mourning and Melancholia.”

Samuel Raphael, Theatres of Memory (First Chapter)

 

Meeting Two:

            Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism (Part One 1-66)

 

Meeting Three:

            Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Illuminations

Samuel Raphael, Theatres of Memory (Second Chapter)

 

Meeting Four:

            Karl Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (to page 41)

 

Meeting Five:

            Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx (first two chapters)

.

Meeting Six:

            Fredric Jameson, “Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” The Anti-Aesthetic

David Lowenthal, The Past is a Foreign Country, Section One

 

Meeting Seven:

            Russ Castronovo, “Political Necrophilia.” 

David Lowenthal The Past is a Foreign Country, Section Two

 

Meeting Eight:

            Charles W. Mills, Racial Contract (first two chapters)

 

Meeting Nine:

            Toni Morison, Beloved

           

Bibliography:

Benjamin, Walter.  “Thesis on the Philosophy of History”.  Illuminations.  New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968. 

Castronovo, Russ.  “Political Necrophilia.”  Boundary 2: An International Journal of Literature and Culture 27.2 (Summer 2000):133.

Derrida, Jacques.  Specters of Marx: the State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the International.  Trans. Peggy Kamuf.  New York: Routledge, 1994: 3-76.

Freud, Sigmund.  Moses and Monotheism.  Trans. Katherine Jones.  New York: Random Books, 1939: 1-66.

---.  “Mourning and Melancholia.”  1917.  The Standard Edition of Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. 24 vols. James Strachey ed. and trans. London: Hogarth Press, 1953-74, vol. 14: 237-60.

Jameson, Fredric.  “Postmodernism and Consumer Society”.  The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture. Ed. Hal Foster.  New York: The New York Press, 1998: 127-44

Lowenthal, David.  The Past is a Foreign Country.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985: 3-262.

Marx, Karl.  The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.  4th ed.  New York: International Publishers, 1998: 15-41.

Mills, Charles.  Racial Contract.  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999.

Morrison, Toni.  Beloved.  New York: Vintage, 2004.

Samuel, Raphael.  Theatres of Memory.  New York: Verso, 1994: 3-204.

 

Rationale: 

The independent study will be similar to a “Literature and Philosophy” course, only it will concentrate on the philosophy of history and its relation to narrative theory and cultural studies more precisely. 

 

Objectives:

To investigate the intersections between history, fiction, and nationalism, especially in how they result in nostalgic or “necrophilic” relations to a fantasized and racialized conception of the past.

 

Nature of Study:

The course will largely consist of independent reading and in-depth discussion of the texts in consultation with the professor.

 

Role of Professor:

The professor will provide background for the texts, their context, and the theoretical issues that they raise; offer feedback on the interpretations and/or discussion questions that the student will present each week; and provide commentary on the final essay.

 

Frequency of Meetings:

The 1½-hour meetings will occur every week and a half throughout the Winter semester.

 

Papers:

Along with brief response papers and/or discussion questions for each meeting, the student will write one eight-page paper, incorporating at least three of the theoretical texts listed below in an in-depth analysis of Toni Morrison’s Beloved.