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C LIT 251 A: Introduction to Comparative Literature: Themes

Meeting Time: 
MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm
Location: 
CDH 101
SLN: 
11669
Joint Sections: 
ENGL 242 D, CHID 270 A, GERMAN 285 A
Instructor: 
Richard Block

Syllabus Description:

The Queerness of Love /English 242D/German 285

Richard Block

Denny 345

blockr@uw.edu

Office Hours:  ZOOM by appt.

TA: Dr. Chase Emrys.  chase.stamper@gmail.com

(Please Note:  The Class is actually offered for a grade, not CR/NC as stated earlier.  See requirements for further clarification.)

The words "I love you" may come from the heart, but they are nonetheless a citation, even a cliché. What the heart would speak is no more than a commonplace. Utterances of love, it might be said, are always already somebody else's. What is dearest and most heartfelt is thus rendered wholly unoriginal and certainly not one's own. The nature of love is thus self-estrangement; the lover, if (s)he truly is in love, can be nothing other than queer. But queer is not an easy term to define. If the term is embedded in the politics of gender, just as certainly does queer describe a relationship in which lover and loved do not relate. They remain inexplicably something "other" to each other and to themselves.

 

In this course, we will attempt to trace the limits and possibilities of queer love in the West, particularly since around 1800. Is it the absolute form of love Plato describes in the "Symposium" and what the 18th and 19th centuries smugly referred to as “platonic”or is it simply monstrous as in Frankenstein.? To explore these possibilities we will look at works from the Harlem Renaissance (Nella Larson) to the indie film circuit (Cheryl Dunye) to Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight. We will conclude the course with a discussion of the AIDS quilt. What is the nature of love in the face of inexpressible loss? How do the assembled panels of strangers who died of a "queer's disease" overcome the ambiguity of the words, "I love you"?

 

Students can expect to learn the following from the course: an understanding of the historical contingencies that shape any expression of love, skills for close, analytical reading of a text, and ability to shape a convincing argument based on evidence collected from a close reading.

 

COURSE EVALUTION: Students will write two essays, the first is due May 4 ( 4 pages). The second essay is due June 11 at noon (5 pages).  Those who are seeking a "W" credit must re-write the first essay.  All others may rewrite, but that is optional.  For all re-writes, you receive the grade of the rewrite.  

Class Participation:  Students are expected to contribute to the on-line discussions via Canvas and to our meetings via ZOOM.  If you cannot attend ZOOM class meetings due to technical issues, please let me know and something will be worked out.

Extra Credit: During the second week of class a list of virtual museums, podcasts and films will be made available.  Included with that list will be instructions about for receiving extra credit.  In short, students write  a 1 to 1/2 page (double spaced) thought piece regarding the event or film.  For each assignment completed, your final grade will be increased by 0.15.  

Evaluation:  First essay, 30 percent, Class Participation 30 percent, Final Essay, 40 percent.

 

MARCH 30: Introduction, Wicked (excerpt). What is “queer”?

 

APRIL 1 AND APRIL 3: Plato, Symposium 4/1, 4/3. Read entire text for 4/1.

 

APRIL 6,8,10,13,15: Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (also, selections from Shakespeare: The Sonnets.) 4/6 read until the end of chapter 3; 4/8 read until the end of Volume I;

4/10 read until the end of chapter 7, 2nd. volume; 4/13 read until end of Volume 2; 4/15 finish book.

 

APRIL 17, 20, 22.: Thomas Mann: Death in Venice. Read entire text for 4/16.

 

APRIL 24 AND 27: Nella Larsen: Passing. 4/24 read first half of text; 4/27 finish text.

 

May: Writing Workshop

MAY4, MAY6, May 8 Cheryl Duye: The Watermelon Woman (film)

MAY11, MAY 13, May 15: Ang Lee: Brokeback Mountain (film)

MAY18, MAY 20, MAY 22: Barry Jenkins: Moonlight (film).

MAY 25 Memorial Day (no class)

MAY 27, 29, June 1:  Neil Jordan: The Crying Game

JUNE 1, JUNE 3: The NAMES PROJECT (AIDS Quilt).

JUNE 5:  Broadway responds to AIDS and Course Conclusion.

 

CLASS PARATICIPATION. Throughout the quarter you will be asked to work in groups and report back to class. That will serve as the key marker of class participation.

 

 

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR A DISABILITY. ANYONE REQUIRING AN ACCOMMODATION SHOULD NOTIFY THE TA CHASE EMRYS DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF CLASS

 

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Accommodations Request form.

 

 

NOTES: LONG-DISTANCE LEARNING IS NEW FOR ALMOST ALL OF US. PATIENCE, GENEROSITY, AND FLEXIBILITY ARE REQUIRED. ACCOMMODATIONS FOR UNFORESEEN STUDENT NEEDS WILL LIKELY BE NEED TO BE MADE THROUGHOUT THE QUARTER. IF YOU DO THE READINGS AND WATCH THE FILMS CLOSELY, YOU SHOULD DO WELL IN THIS CLASS. WE ALL NEED TO REMEMBER THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO STAY HEALTHY.

Catalog Description: 
Reading and analyzing literature based upon rotating themes such as love, sex, and murder, haunted houses, and dreams and memory. Selections drawn from European, English, and American literature, not limited to period and genre.
Department Requirements Met: 
Pre-req to Declare Literature Major
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Credits: 
5.0
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
January 27, 2020 - 10:10pm
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