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ENG-410-20, Literature of Witness and Resistance (SP14)

INSTRUCTOR: Shelley Puhak

SCHEDULE/DAY/TIME: SEM/Thursdays/6-8:45 pm, 01/30/2014-05/15/2014

CONTENT:

This course will consider the techniques contemporary writers use to resist and remember under authoritarian regimes. The course will examine literature created within the context of the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the El Salvadorian Civil War, as well as the recent Arab Spring of 2011.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

-The course will consider the question of voice (who speaks? and to whom? how do writers co-opt the language of their oppressors?) and the question of who can witness (where’s the line between imagination and appropriation?).

-Ultimately, students will be asked to contemplate the social and political obligations of writers in contemporary society.

METHODS: 

Lecture and class discussion (online and face-to-face)

REQUIREMENTS AND ASSIGNMENTS: 

5 Reaction Papers @ 10% ea - 50%

1 Class Presentation - 10%

Class Participation - 20%

Final Exam - 20%

REQUIRED TEXT(S) OR MATERIALS: 

-Junot Diaz, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, 2008.

-Stephen Galloway, The Cellist of Sarajevo, 2008.

-Julia Alvarez, In the Time of Butterflies, 2010 reprint.

-Carolyn Forche, Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness, 1993.

-Elie Wiesel, Night, 1960.

READINGS AND/OR ASSIGNMENTS TO BE DONE PRIOR TO THE FIRST CLASS:

Please begin reading Junot Diaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao before the first class meeting; you will be expected to write a short essay on the novel before our second class meeting.