Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Terrorism and Literature cancelled

ENGL 260.601
W 6-9:00 pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major


What is the relationship between global imaginaries, capitalist world-systems, and terrorism? How might we deepen our understanding of terrorism as a form of political violence with a much longer history than the contemporary events of 9/11? This course will take students on a dangerous journey involving anarchism, sedition, separatism, and political agitation that queries the stakes of anti-state violence and ideologies. We will read British, American, and global South literature that represent complicated political movements with a fraught relationship to civil society. How might violence offer a solution to subjects oppressed by impossibly large structures like colonialism and imperialism? Can small-scale rebellions avoid the collateral damage of civil society? How can we as readers learn about the value of dissent while still rejecting anti-state violence?  Authors will include Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, G.K. Chesterton, Mahashweta Devi, Salman Rushdie, Don DeLillo, and Solmaz Sharif. We will also watch films like The Battle of Algiers and analyze Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel In the Shadow of No Towers. Literary readings will be occasionally supplemented with studies such as The 9/11 Commission Report to understand the full implications of a fraught global political environment. This course is designed to help students think critically about the relationship between politics and literature. Assignments will include two short close reading papers, a class presentation, a midterm exam, and a longer final paper.