T. S. Eliot once described Joyce and Milton as two blind men making poetry out of a language based on English. This course will trace Joyce's gradually increasing commitment to the dissolution and multiplication of the English language, beginning with the linguistic spareness of his early poems and stories. We will read Giorgio Agamben on language and witnessing as a prologue that "frames" Joyce's project, and then we will trace his treatment of the story, the bildungsroman, and the epic, ending with his tribute to the roiling chaos of a linguistic unconscious in Finnegans Wake.
In loose connection with the course, there will be a series of informal talks by Joyce critics who have been asked to present intellectual histories of their own writing. Please reserve Wednesday afternoons after class for these talks.