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The Stranger in 20th-Century Literature and Film

ENGL 263.301
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

In the twentieth century, who can be defined as a stranger and from
where do they come?  This course will explore the stranger and the
theme of estrangement in 20th century literature, art and film. We
will explore works in which the stranger appears as a friend or a foe,
and study how individuals and communities have remained open to the
strangeness not just of the “other” but also of the “self.” This
course will also explore post-colonial concerns about the desire to
“touch” the other, and the impossibility of ever doing so.
Throughout the course we will reflect on estrangement as a fact of
biography and a way of life, and learn how the figure of the stranger
can ultimately alter our subjectivity.

Each seminar will be structured around a major literary theme,
including exile, migration, foreignness, identity, and loss.  Authors
we will read include Albert Camus, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Franz Kafka,
Maurice Blanchot, Ralph Ellison, Zadie Smith, and Georg Simmel.  We
will watch films by Orson Welles, Agnes Varda, Werner Herzog, David
Lynch, Lars von Triers, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Michael Haneke,
among others.  We will study the artworks of Carolee Schneemann,
Krzysztof Wodiczko, Knut Asdam, and others, through class visits to
cultural institutions in Philadelphia such as the Mutter Museum at The
College of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Slought
Foundation.  A weekly writing assignment and a final paper will be
required.