Critical University Studies (Spring 2019)
People often call the university the ivory tower. But more than 80% of young Americans attend college and, alongside health care, it is the major social institution of our time. Moreover, depictions of the college run through contemporary fiction and film, so it is a major part of our cultural imagination. This course will examine the fiction, film, and other cultural portraits of higher education alongside its history and theory. In particular, it will explore a new field called critical university studies, that analyzes the current conditions of higher ed and advocates for better ways to fulfill its public mission. Fiction might include Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Stoner, and The Ask; films might include Nutty Professor, Revenge of the Nerds, and Accepted; and theory and history will range from Kant and Jefferson up to recent critiques by Christopher Newfield, Marc Bousquet, and Tressie McMillan Cottom.
20th and 21st Century American Fiction (Fall 2018)
This course examines American fiction from 1900 to the present. It covers the movement from modernism, through midcentury realism and postmodernism, to the contemporary. We look at scholarly definitions of those modes, as well as some of the cultural context that has informed American literature. Some of the authors will include modernists like Stein and Faulkner; midcentury writers and postmodernists like Ellison, McCarthy, and Pynchon; and contemporary writers like Diaz, Lahiri, and Franzen.
Introduction to Literary and Cultural Studies (Fall 2018)
This course introduces students to important texts, traditions and intellectual concepts associated with literary and cultural studies in the 20th century. This course studies the history, main issues, and methods of cultural studies. We read some of the thinkers who have inspired it, from Matthew Arnold to the formation of British cultural studies, and the theoretical injection of French theory. We also look at the expansion of cultural studies, as it examined race, sexuality, and ecology. In addition, we try to think about the way cultural studies might provide alternative methods for doing criticism, and students write several papers and develop their own research project.