Empire of English: Issues in Comparative Anglophone Fiction
We will consider a range of theoretical and practical problems connected with the global system of Anglophone cultural production and exchange. A syllabus has yet to be determined, but is likely to include readings drawn from four main areas: 1) the recent history of the English language and the rise of new vernaculars and idiolects, as described by linguists like David Crystal (English as a Global Language) and literary critics like Matthew Hart (“Synthetic Vernaculars”) and Evelyn Nien-Ming Ch’ien (Weird English); 2) theories of economic and cultural globalization, including the world systems analysis of Immanuel Wallerstein, the theories of cosmopolitanism advanced by Ullrich Beck and Bruce Robbins, and the debates over nationalism and sovereignty surrounding the work of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri; 3) the formal and institutional aspects of “world fiction” as described by literary critics and sociologists such as Pascale Casanova (World Republic of Letters) and Grahan Huggan (The Postcolonial Exotic); and 4) a range of novels and films that will help us test and refine the broader lines of argument. These may include work by Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things), Ken Loach (Riff Raff; Bread and Roses), Keri Hulme (the bone people), Lynne Ramsey (Ratcatcher), Jessica Hagedorn (Dogeaters), and Nuruddin Farah (Maps). Check back on September 1st for a final version of the syllabus.
Students will make one short (15-minute) and one long (30-minute) oral presentation, as well as writing a full-length term paper.