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Literature in Theory Syllabus 2022-23

Most readings are available via the Library Reading List. Please complete weekly readings prior to your seminar.

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TERM 1

Week 1. Introduction: Literature in Theory

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UNIT ONE: WHAT IS LITERATURE?

Week 2. The Library

J. L. Borges, ‘The Library of Babel’

Walter Benjamin, “Unpacking My Library: A Talk about Book Collecting”, in Illuminations, translated by Harry Zorn (Pimlico, 1999) pp.61-69

Week 3. The Canon

Terry Eagleton, ‘Introduction: What is Literature?’ in Literary Theory: An Introduction (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996/2011); pp. 1-15.

Toni Morrison, “black matters” from Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (New York: Random House, Inc, 1993), pp. 1-28.

Week 4. The Writer

Orhan Pamuk, ‘My Father's Suitcase'

Franz Kafka, ‘The Burrow’; ‘The Stoker’; ‘In the Penal Colony’

Week 5. The Reader

Ivan Vladislavic, ‘The Reading’, in 101 Detectives (London: And Other Stories, 2015).

Namwali Serpell, ‘The Banality of Empathy’

Teju Cole, 'A Reader's War'

 

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UNIT TWO: DISCIPLINING ENGLISH

Week 7. Disciplining English

Edward Said, Orientalism (excerpt)

Gauri Viswanathan, 'The Beginnings of English Literary Study in British India', Oxford Literary Review Vol. 9, No. 1/2, COLONIALISM & other essays (1987), pp. 2-26

Week 8. Decolonising English

Ngugi wa Thiong’o, 'On the Abolition of the English Department', in Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, eds. The Post-Colonial Studies Reader (London: Routledge, 1995), pp. 438-442.

Daljit Nagra, Look We Have Coming to Dover (2007)

Week 9. The Library of World Literature

Aamir Mufti, ‘Prologue: The Universal Library of World Literature’ in Forget English! Orientalisms and World Literature (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016), pp. 1-55. 

Epeli Hau‘ofa, ‘The Glorious Pacific Way’, in We Are the Ocean (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2008)

Week 10. The University

Dalia Gebrial, 'Rhodes Must Fall: Oxford and Movements for Change’, in Decolonising the University, ed. by Gurminder K. Bhambra, Dalia Gebrial, Kerem Nişancıoğlu (Pluto Press, 2018), pp.19-32. TBC.

Rahul Rao, ‘Neoliberal Antiracism and the British University', Radical Philosophy, 2. 8 (2020), pp. 47-54.

Seminar activity: decolonising the syllabus.

 

TERM 2

 

UNIT THREE: THE GLOBAL CULTURAL MARKETPLACE

 

Week 1: Cultural Capital

Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, 'The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception' (excerpt)

Pierre Bourdieu, “The Forms of Capital”, in J. G. Richardson (ed.), Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1986), pp.241-258.

Pierre Bourdieu,‘Introduction', Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste

Week 2: Creative Industries and Literary Labour

Raven Leilani, Luster (Picador, 2020)

Week 3: Publishing, Prizes, Prestige

James F. English, ‘Introduction: Prizes and the Study of Culture’, The Economy of Prestige (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2005)

Graham Huggan, ‘Prizing “Otherness”: A Short History of the Booker’, Studies in the Novel 29. 3 (1997), pp. 412-433.

Laura B. McGrath, 'Comping White'

Seminar activity: book covers and prizes

Week 4: Culture, Heritage, Tourism

Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place (1988)

 

UNIT FOUR: THE PUBLIC HUMANITIES

Week 5: The Public Humanities

Michael Warner, ‘Publics and Counterpublics’, Public Culture 14.1 (2002), pp. 49-90.

Mary Mullen, ‘Public Humanities’ (Victorian) culture problem’, Cultural Studies 30. 2 (2016), pp. 183-204.

Seminar activity: book clubs, public theatre, literary festivals.

Week 7: The Digital Humanities

Simone Murray, ‘Charting the Digital Literary Sphere’, Contemporary Literature 56.2 (2015), pp. 311-339.

Franco Moretti, Atlas of the European Novel, 1800-1900 (London: Verso, 1999), pp. 12-24. 

Week 8: The Writer as Activist

Selected poetry from Craig Santos Perez, Habitat Threshold and Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner, Iep Jaltok

Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016) (excerpt)

Week 9: Literature and Social Change

Ursula Le Guin, ‘The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas’

China Mieville, ‘From Choice to Polarity: Politics in, and, and of Art

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, ‘Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference

Week 10: Conclusion and Research Project Preparation