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Structuralism, System, World

ENGL 571.401
crosslisted as: COML 604
Wednesdays 3-6:00 pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective of the Standard Major

This course introduces students to several of the major syncretic modes of thought of the post-WW2 period: structuralism, systems theory, and, via a series of cognates circling around the word "world," globalization, world-systems, and world literature. Our readings will be primary texts from major authors in each field, hence: Ferdinand de Saussure, Claude Lévi-Strauss, A.J. Greimas, Juri Lotman (for structuralism); Vilfredo Pareto, Norbert Wiener, Talcott Parsons, Niklas Luhmann (for system); Immanuel Wallerstein, Franco Moretti, David Damrosch, Gayatri Spivak, and others (for world). We will trace the history of the modes of systematic/syncretic thought into various little corners (chaos theory, complexity theory) and discuss our examples both as primary texts in the intellectual trajectory of the twentieth century and as sites for the exposition of theories of poetics that can, or have, influenced the study and history of literary aesthetics.