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Representing the Global Village

ENGL 0022.601
also offered as: COML 0022

What is it like to leave home, and what does it mean to return? Rural-to-urban migration has been a defining experience of capitalist modernity since the Industrial Revolution, and in contrast to the city, the village is often viewed with nostalgia--as a place of origin, a site of belonging, or a point of departure. This course introduces students to literary study by examining representations of the village in texts from around the globe. The idea of "the global village" (a phrase coined by media theorist Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s) has long been invoked as a way of picturing the relationship between the local and the global in an interconnected world. Can fiction help us imagine what it means to be in community in our globalized present? And how might literary representations of the village--often envisioned as a place where older lifeways and deeply-rooted forms of community persist--help us to understand the uneven effects of globalization in the context of histories of race and empire? As we survey literature from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States, we will discover how literary methods can help us investigate these questions about belonging, resistance, tradition, and change together. Our readings may include novellas by George Eliot, short stories by John Berger and Annie Proulx, and novels by Chinua Achebe and NoViolet Bulawayo, as well as theory and criticism by Raymond Williams, Phil Neel, and others, and podcasts like NPR's This American Life and Erica Heilman's independently-produced Rumble Strip. Assignments will include reading responses, an in-class presentation, and the choice of writing a research paper or recording a scripted podcast as a final project.

English Major Requirements
  • Sector 2 Difference and Diaspora (AEDD)
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
College Attributes
  • Sector III: Arts & Letters (AUAL)
  • Foundational Approach: Cross Cultural Analysis (AUCC)