THE CRITICAL CANON AND CONTEMPORARY ISSUES (3.0 CR.)
Cultural Difference, Community, and Cosmopolitanism
Instructor: Christian Moraru
McIver 222, M 6:30-9:20 PM
Office: McIver 112
Office Hours: MWF 11:00-12:00 noon; M 5:30-6:30 PM, and by appt.
Office Phone: (336) 334-3564
Home Phone: (336) 834-9866
Dept. of English Phone: (336) 334-3511
Ò [L]iterature . . . is written as a defense of the dignity of the strange.Ó (Julia Kristeva, Nations Without Nationalism 51)
COURSE DESCRIPTION AND GOALS: This is a literary and cultural theory survey with a strong Òhistory of ideasÓ component. Specifically, we will pursue the major developments of the discourse of cultural difference, community, cosmopolitanism and, more recently, globalization in the West and, to a certain extent, in non-Western traditions. Thus, we will read and discuss classical works by Stoic philosophers, Dante, Montesquieu, Kant, as well as modern, direct and indirect responses to these authors by Claude L
Along these lines, we will ask, how can we trace the ÒgenealogyÓ of the modern talk of cosmopolitan/global identities and values? How have classical, modern and postmodern, colonial and postcolonial theories of aesthetic and cultural practices, society, politics, identity, and textuality participated in the understanding, indeed, the production of recent global discourse? How does the latter and the new sociocultural formations it describes ÒrevisitÓ those theories? In other words, what former theorists or thinkers have anticipated the cosmopolitan/global revival and, indeed, how does the latter ÒrewriteÓ the history of theory, criticism, and aesthetics? How are traditional theory and its canon adapting to global configurations?
Accordingly, the course aims at familiarizing the students with the history of theory and criticism, focusing in particular on a topic of growing relevance and its crosscultural, diachronic developments. In this class, they also learn, and apply, the research methodology needed for the study of literature and the critical ideas and theories shaping literary discourse. The emphasis will be placed on identifying the major moments in the complex ÒgenealogyÓ of certain contemporary concepts and models of critical and cultural analysis--difference, identity, community, universality, cosmopolitanism, globalism--, that is, on tracing them back, and registering their response, to modern and classical texts. Both classroom work and individual projects--to be presented in oral or written form--are geared toward this goal. See the Professional Development note below for more specific objectives especially graduate students (and Ph.D. students first and foremost) will reach in this class.
METHODOLOGY AND CLASS FORMAT: We will use criticism, theory, and philosophy, but we will also turn to some fictional narratives that are shaped substantially by concerns reflected by the rest of the materials. Running for almost three hours, this class will resemble a seminar, combining lecture, extensive discussion, student presentations, and, occasionally, group work. Usually, our meetings will open with a lecture by the instructor providing historical and cultural background and placing the scheduled readings in the appropriate context. Following this introduction, students give 15-20-minute individual presentations on specific aspects of those readings. Then, we discuss collectively the materials for the day. I will set aside time to prepare and evaluate writing projects, exams, and other assignments.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVES: Students--especially graduate students--are encouraged to use this course to put their work in the larger, more demanding and competitive perspective of professionalism and academic performance. The class is geared overall towards graduate reading and writing carrying notable potential for presentation and publication outside UNCG. While fulfilling the courseÕs requirements is your major goal, I urge you to take these requirements as an opportunity to think about yourselves as part of the academic community, with its specific standards, language, methods, tools, and venues.
Here are a few questions for us: where do I stand as a scholar, teacher, critic and writer, and which are my goals? In what kind of scholarly conversation do I wish to intervene based on what I learn in this class? What steps do I have to take to do that? What are the resources? Which are the outlets for my work? What do I have to do, for instance, to turn my seminar presentation/paper into a conference paper/journal article/dissertation chapter/writing sample? (more details in class and individually).
1. Writing Assignments and Exams. There will be two options for undergraduate and graduate students:
a) a midterm paper (10 pp.) and a final paper (25 pp. plus endnotes and Works Cited), recommended for graduates;
b) a midterm exam and a final exam (6-8 p. each, both take- home) plus a final paper (10 p. plus endnotes and Works Cited), strongly recommended for undergraduates.
As you can see, each student will write at least a term paper, which is the most important writing assignment in the course. For the final paper, you are responsible for submitting (to the instructor and ahead of time), for duplicating and circulating among class members a 1-p., single-spaced proposal, which will be presented and discussed in class towards the end of the semester. We will meet individually to discuss your proposal before its presentation in class. I also urge graduate students to consult with me regarding the topic of the first paper.
Note: All assignments are due in class on the day indicated in the syllabus.
2. Individual Presentations. Students sign up for their final project and oral presentations right away so that we can spread out the presentations over the course of the semester. Each student will give a brief, 15-20-min. talk on the scheduled readings. The presentations need not be written, but if they are, you should probably aim for 7-7.5, double-spaced pages.
Presentations cover a relevant aspect or material for the day. I do not expect you to fully analyze or explain the assignments or even one of these assignments. But I do ask you to a) briefly outline the argument or content of the readings you intent to talk about, and then to b) identify one major element (theoretical problem) in these works, which should help us open up our conversation. I urge undergraduates to consult with me before they present.
3. ÒThe Question for the Day.Ó Each student will write up, before the class, one question on the scheduled readings. You need not have the answer to the question; nor does the question have to be fully formulated--you may, occasionally, phrase it more as a problem than a full-blown query. I request that you e-mail your question to me by 2:00 PM each Monday.
4. Attendance and Participation. Both are expected and will factor in the final grade (see below under course policies).
CONFERENCES: Please meet with me during my regular office hours or make an appointment to discuss your specific interests, goals, or any aspect of this class. I ask you to make a first, ÒformalÓ appointment early on in the semester. I will schedule these meetings immediately. I will also hold a second round of formal conferences, before the semester ends, to discuss your 1-p. proposals and your progress in this class.
1. Late Papers: No late papers--and any other kind of work for that matter--accepted. However, if you foresee any deadline-related problems, please come to see me ahead of time. We shall work together to find a solution.
2. Absences: You are allowed no more than 2 (two) absences during the semester for illnesses (which you must document afterwards), religious holidays, or any emergencies preventing you from attending. No undocumented absences allowed. Should they occur, they will affect your final grade. I will subtract 5% from the latter for any undocumented absence. Since we meet once a week, attendance is particularly critical to the success of our work in this class. If you are the victim of an emergency, please stay in touch with me by e-mail or phone.
GRADING: As a general rule, no incompletes (but, again, come to see me if you anticipate any problems). The quality of your work will be reflected in the final grade as follows:
1. Papers and/or exams: 85%
2. Oral participation: 15%
Note: I would like to discuss these percentages and all requirements in general on the first meeting.
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New York. London: Verso. Revised ed., 1991 (pbk). ISBN 0860915468
Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996 (pbk.). ISBN 0816627932
DeLillo, Don. Underworld. New York: Scribner, 1998 (pbk.). ISBN 0684848155
Derrida, Jacques. On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness. Trans. New York and London: Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0415227127
Harvey, David. The Conditions of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Cambridge, UK: Blackwell, 1990 (pbk.). ISBN 0631162941
Kant, Immanuel. Political Writings. Ed. Hans Reiss. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991 (pbk.). ISBN 0521398371
Kristeva, Julia. Nations without Nationalism. Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia UP, 1993. ISBN 0231081049 (hardcover or pbk.)
Montesquieu. Persian Letters. 1712. Trans. C. J. Betts. Pbk. New York: Viking Penguin, 1977. Reprint. ISBN: 0140442812
Nussbaum, Martha et al. For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism. Cohen, Joshua, ed. Boston: Beacon, 1996. ISBN 0807043133
Yamashita, Karen Tei. Tropic of Orange. Minneapolis: Coffee House P, 1997. ISBN 1566890640
II. Additional materials (whole books or xeroxed excerpts) placed on reserve and marked R in the syllabus, or available online (marked O):
Appiah, K. Anthony. ÒCosmopolitan Reading.Ó Vinay Dharwadker, ed. Cosmopolitan Geographies. New Locations in Literature and Culture. New York and London: Routledge, 2001. 197-227. Xerox copy.
Buell, Frederick. National Culture and the New Global System. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994. 325-343. Xerox copy.
-- . ÒNationalist Postnationalism: Globalist Discourse in Contemporary America.Ó American Quarterly, 50. 3 (Sep. 1998): 548-591. Xerox copy.
Dante. Literature in the Vernacular. Trans. with an Introduction by Sally Purcell. Manchester, UK: Carcanet New P, 1981. Xerox copy.
Dharwadker, Vinay. ÒIntroduction. Cosmopolitanism in Its Time and Place.Ó Dharwadker 1-13. Xerox copy
Dirlik, Arif. The Postcolonial Aura. Third World Criticism in the Age of Global Capitalism. Boulder, CO: Westview P, 1997. 1- 22; 52-104. Xerox copy.
Eco, Umberto. The Search for the Perfect Language. Trans. James Fentress. Oxford, UK and Cambridge, USA: Blackwell, 1997. 34- 52. Xerox copy.
Greenblatt, Stephen. ÒRacial Memory and Literary History.Ó PMLA 116. 1 (January 2001) 48-63. Ask for the issue at the Periodicals desk, Jackson library.
Harris, Hugh. ÒThe Greek Origins of the Idea of Cosmopolitanism.Ó The International Journal of Ethics. 38. 1 (Oct. 1927): 1-10. Online through Jackson Library (JSTOR).
Llosa, Mario Vargas. ÒGlobal Village or Global Pillage?Ó Reason 33. 3 (July 2001): 40-47. Online through Jackson Library (InfoTrac).
Long, A. A., D. N. Sedley. The Hellenistic philosophers. Volume 1. Translation of the principal sources with philosophical commentary. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 1987. 1-9; 429-437. Xerox copy.
Mignolo, Walter. ÒThe Many Faces of Cosmo-Polis: Border Thinking and Critical Cosmopolitanism.Ó Public Culture 12.3 (Fall 2000): 771-748. Online through Jackson Library--electronic journals.
Zeller, E. The Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics. Trans. Oswald J. Reichel. A New and Revised Edition. New York: Russell & Russell, 1962. 297-340. Xerox copy.
Yamashita, Karen Tei. ÒInterview with Karen Tei Yamashita.Ó By Jean Vengua Gier and Carla Alicia Tejeda. Jouvert 2.2. Online: http://22.214.171.124/jouvert.v2I2/yamashi.htm
Mon Aug. 20 THEORY, CRITICISM, INTERDISCIPLINARITY. DIFFERENCE AND UNIVERSALITY IN THE HISTORY OF THOUGHT, CRITICISM, AND THEORY: A DIALOGUE ACROSS CENTURIES
Introduction to the course: goals, requirements, policies. Presentation of the topic and daily syllabus followed by discussion.
Mon Aug. 27 CULTURE, DIFFERENCE, AND COMMUNITY: THE STOIC VIEW AND CONTEMPORARY REACTIONS
Assignments: Dharwadker, ÒIntroduction. Cosmopolitanism in Its Time and PlaceÓ R; Long and
Sedley, The Hellenistic philosophers R; Zeller, The Stoics R; Harris, ÒThe Greek OriginsÓ R
Note: Read the whole Yamashita novel for next time.
Mon Sep. 3 Labor Day Holiday. No class
Mon Sep. 10 COSMOPOLITAN HUMANISM, LIBERALISM, NEO-LIBERAL GLOBALISM--AND THEIR CRITIQUE. BORDERLAND AND BORDER-CROSSING NARRATIVES
Assignments: Yamashita, Tropic of Orange (I)
Optional: Yamashita, ÒInterviewÓ O; Appiah, ÒCosmopolitan ReadingÓ R
Mon Sep. 17 Assignments: Yamashita, Tropic of Orange (II)
Llosa, ÒGlobal Village or Global Pillage?Ó
Optional: Greenblatt, ÒRacial MemoryÓ R; Mignolo, ÒThe Many Faces of Cosmo-PolisÓ O
Mon Sep. 24 LANGUAGE, CHRISTIANITY, AND THE MEDIEVAL COSMOPOLITAN
Assignments: Dante, ÒLiterature in the VernacularÓ R; Eco, The Search for the Perfect Language 34-52 R
Preparing the midterm exam (group work)
Mon Oct. 1 THE ENLIGHTENMENTÕS ÒCOSMOPOLITAN PURPOSEÓ
Assignments: Montesquieu, Persian Letters 39-41; 71-74; 78-111; 283-284; Kant, Political Writings 41-60; 93-130. Optional: Reiss, ÒIntroduction,Ó Kant 1-40
Midterm exam assigned
Mon Oct. 8 Fall Break. No class
Mon Oct. 15 STRUCTURALISM, POSTSTRUCTURALISM,NEOCOSMOPOLITANISM
Midterm papers and exams due (in class)
Mon Oct. 22 POSTSTRUCTURALISM AND THE CRITIQUE OF THE NATION-STATE: AGAINST ÒABSTRACT COSMOPOLITANISMÓ
Assignments: Kristeva, Nations Without Nationalism 1-76; Nussbaum, For Love of Country 7-65
Mon Oct. 29 PATRIOTS AND COSMOPOLITES: REVISITING LOYALTY
Assignments: Nussbaum, For Love of Country 66-151
Optional: Anderson, Imagined Communities 141-154; Appadurai, Modernity at Large 158-177
Mon Nov. 5 SOCIOCULTURAL CRITIQUES OF THE NATION-STATE
Assignments: Anderson, Imagined Communities xi-111. Optional 113-140
Mon Nov. 12 THE COSMOPOLITAN, THE POSTCOLONIAL, AND GLOBAL RECONFIGURATIONS
Assignments: Dirlik 1-22 R; 52-104 R. Optional: Buell, National Culture 325-343 R
Note: Start reading DeLillo (first 345 pp. due Nov. 26)
Mon Nov. 19 THE COSMOPOLITAN, THE POSTMODERN, AND GLOBAL RECONFIGURATIONS (I)
Assignment: Appadurai, Modernity at Large 1-85. Optional: Buell, ÒNationalist PostnationalismÓ R
Final project presentations (I)
Mon Nov. 26 THE COSMOPOLITAN, THE POSTMODERN, AND GLOBAL RECONFIGURATIONS (II)
Assignments: Don DeLillo, Underworld 1-345; Harvey, The Postmodern Condition 260-323 (but read 201-259, too, if your can, optionally)
Final project presentations (II)
Discussing the final exam
Mon Dec. 3 Underworld 349-637; Harvey 327-359
Final project presentations (III)
Final exam assigned
Mon Dec. 10 Last day of classes
Final project presentations (IV)
Final papers and exams due (in class)