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Topics in Literature

ENGL 016.301
instructor(s):
W 2-5

This course will examine two related problems: love and narrative. We will consider a range of important historical forms through which bodies and feelings have been socialized into Western culture's vision of "love," exploring theories and representation of platonic, courtly, companionate, romantic, and marital love. We will also consider "singularity" and homosexuality as social forms in dialogue with love and marriage, and cousinship, adoption, avuncularity, and other queer forms of kinship in dialogue with the nuclear family. Concurrently, we will examine the kinds of narrative that cluster around each of these forms: we will work through essays and dialogues, short stories, a Shakespearian comedy, "plotless" and plot-centered novels, and prose poetry. In part, we will continually be asking how narrative form represents, reflects, and contests the energies of different ideologies of "love." Authors may include Margaret Atwood, Plato, Aristotle, Carson McCullers, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Madame de Lafayette, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, Mark Twain, Toni Morrison, Henry James, and Gertrude Stein, as well as a number of films and material on the gay marriage debate. Secondary readings will include such theorists and historians as Lawrence Stone, John Boswell, John Gillis, Fredrich Engels, Nancy Miller, Stanley Cavell, D.A. Miller, Roland Barthes, Eve Sedgwick, Michael Moon, Hortense Spillers, and others.