Comparative Literature Graduate Course Descriptions


Winter Quarter

Dept Course No and Title Instructor
Drama 291: Colonial and Postcolonial Theory: Creative Paradigms and Adaptations Winter 2019, MAB 129. Th.2-4.50pm
Ketu H. Katrak, Department of Drama

            Office: Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) 2028. Office Hours: Th. 1-2 and by appointment                       
Description: We discuss British colonialism in documents by colonial officers (such as Lord Macaulay’s “Minute on Indian Education”, February 2, 1835 among others) and postcolonial theory (from ex-British colonies in India Africa, and the Caribbean) from the perspective of creative writers, scholars, and activists. We analyze via theory and creative work the representations of colonialism and neo-colonialism, postcolonialism and decolonization, along with recent decolonial challenges in the persistence of colonial symbology from statues to educational curricula and neo-colonial ideologies that continue colonialist paradigms. Colonial domination via the English language and hegemonic notions of English and European culture as superior to other languages and cultures is contested from various postcolonial perspectives in speaking back to empire.

Our study engages with a palimpsest of selected postcolonial dramatic texts, adaptations, and theories that take on colonial-era stereotypes of race, gender, class as in Martiniqan playwright, Aime Cesaire’s, A Tempest, an Africanized version of Shakespeare’s Tempest, as well as Cesaire’s theorizing in Discourse on Colonialism, a major contribution to postcolonial theory along with theorists such as Frantz Fanon and Ngugi wa Thiong’o. We analyze Ngugi’s theorizing in Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing along with his co-written drama (with Micere Githae Mugo), The Trial of Dedan Kimathi, set in colonial Kenya of the 1950s. We discuss Wole Soyinka’s The Bacchae of Euripides, transformed from the Greek original into “a communion rite” with evocations of postcolonial Nigeria. Our study of postcolonial theory includes scholarly and creative contributions by Nobel Laureates, Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), and Derek Walcott (St. Kitts), along with creative thinkers such as Kamau Brathwaite (Barbados), and Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana). Among British colonial and imperialist controls, South Africa, under the racial apartheid system was only recently independent in 1994. Apartheid-era wounds, physical and psychological persist. We read selected dramas by Athol Fugard, Yael Farber, and performative works by Jay Pather in post-apartheid South Africa.

We also explore hybrid transformations of classical Indian dance styles as in Hari Krishnan’s Bollywood Hopscotch, Anita Ratnam’s feminist re-working in movement, and story-telling entitled, A Million Sitas, based on the Indian epic, The Ramayana, among others.

Required Texts at UCI Bookstore. Reading Packet available from Instructor on first day of class.
COM LIT 210:  The Palestinian Novel
This course offers a condensed survey of the Palestinian literary canon, including contemporary writing (and a couple of films). In exploring this body of works and scholars' engagement with it, we will focus on questions surrounding literary production under colonial conditions: is there even such a thing as a "Palestinian novel"? How do Palestinian authors respond to and adapt the form of the modern novel, considered as a Western genre? What is the role of canonicity in a national enterprise, particularly one which involves a struggle for decolonization? How do Palestinian authors produce this canon as such while also situating themselves in relation to other literary traditions or expressing their discontent with nationalism as a framework? And what may literary narrative itself contribute to our understanding of the colonial condition and the possibility of its disruption? Readings will focus on the fragmentation of Palestinian lives and temporalities--through checkpoints and barriers, expulsion and the refugee camps, and due to internal political differences and social struggles--and may include works by Fadwa Tuqan, Ghassan Kanafani, Emile Habiby, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Sahar Khalifeh, Liana Badr, Ibrahim Nasrallah, Adania Shibli, Elias Khoury and others. We will discuss all works in their English translations but students are welcome to read them in the original.
Winter 2019
Professor: Alicia Cox

European explorers and settlers/colonizers throughout the globe have written accounts of their encounters with Indigenous peoples who they considered deviant due to their sexual behaviors and/or social systems which often included three or more “genders.” In the lands presently known as the Americas, European settlers variously demonized, criminalized, and pathologized nonheteronormative Native peoples and imposed heterosexual norms by institutionalizing patriarchal systems of domination, discipline, and punishment. Non-Native historians and cultural anthropologists have recorded the existence of non-binary gender/sex systems in hundreds of tribes throughout Native North America. However, these accounts often misrepresent Native worldviews and practices, and non-Native LGBTIQ-identified people have adopted these Eurocentric formulations of Native queerness, effectively appropriating Indigenous cultures to legitimate their own political claims. In 1990, an organization of LGBTIQ Native American and Indigenous people coined the term Two-Spiritas an umbrella term to name themselves as Indigenous people who represent myriad, diverse, tribally specific, traditional, non-binary Indigenous social roles. Whereas predominately white scholars have developed mainstream gender and sexuality studies in response to movements of LGBTIQ-identified people seeking civil rights and protections from the settler-colonial US government, Two-Spirit scholars and artists demonstrate the intersectional nature of their efforts to decolonize sexuality and gender as a necessary component of larger efforts to decolonize sovereign Native nations.

This course examines art, criticism, and theory at the intersection of queer and Indigenous studies. Students will consider thematic and transnational contexts to explore multiple intersections of gender, race, class, sexuality, Indigeneity, and settler colonialism. Course texts focus on creative and critical works by Indigenous people who imagine or create alternatives to enduring forms of colonial violence and may include: documentary and dramatic films; works by Indigenous feminist theorists like Paula Gunn Allen, Beth Brant, and Dian Million; critical works in the developing field of queer Indigenous studies by Native and non-Native authors like Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Mark Rifkin, Scott Morgensen, and Lisa Tatonetti; poetry by “urban Indians” like Billy-Ray Belcourt, Chrystos, and Tommy Pico; novels by Tomson Highway, Carole LaFavor, Greg Sarris, and Craig Womack; multiple genre works and collections by Driskill, Deborah Miranda, Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, and Will Roscoe. Assignments will include short weekly response papers to stimulate seminar discussion and a final research paper. 
This seminar will introduce key concepts, theories and debates about monuments and memorials. It will explore
the qualities that make visual art, architecture, and urbanism monumental and ask whether every monument
implies rituals of memory and commemoration. Must a monument be physically imposing, permanent, and
connected to a specific site and public event of historic significance? Or might monuments be temporary,
immaterial, conceptual, or even portable? Can monuments be auditory, olfactory, or tactile? Is it possible to create democratic or nonauthoritarian monuments with relations of subjectivity different from those constructed by authoritarian or monarchical regimes? We will address these questions and also study theories of preservation and how they valorize particular stages in the life of a monument. Finally, we will consider whether urbanity requires monuments and memorials. In a world in
which virtual space increasingly overlays physical space, should monuments and memorials migrate online?

Readings by Alois Riegl, John Ruskin, Ned Kaufman, Rem Koolhaas, Augustus Pugin, Eugène 3
Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, Friedrich Nietzsche, Georges Bataille, Dolores Hayden, George Hersey, Sergiusz Michalski, Jorge Otero Pailos, James Young, Miles Glendinning, William Morris, and Diana Taylor.
Marx, Philosophy, History

Course Desciption

This course is designed to undertake close readings of a small number of Marx’s texts, all of them relatively short. These will be divided in two sets.

The first set is comprised of the key texts that Marx produced during the short period, 1842-48, which Althusser was to denounce as products of a “Young Marx” who was immature, Hegelian ad humanist, not “scientific.” Our interest will be in tracing the rapid movements of his thought, from one text to another, as he begins to think his way out of his own initial milieu of the Young Hegelians, briefly adopts and then repudiates legacies of 18th century materialism, confronts and criticises the philosophical and political premises of Hegel’s thought, immerses himself in politics of the working class first in Paris and then in London, and begins to formulate the fundamentals of an elaborate structure of thought distinctively his own.  We will consider several texts from this period while three central and excruciatingly difficult texts, all composed for self-clarification, will require very close reading: Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right,’  Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 and the ‘Theses on Feuerbach’. ‘The Manifesto’ will come at the end of this series.

The second set of readings are drawn from diverse moments of the later writings— on Bnapartism and the Commune; the famous 1859 Preface; critique of the Gotha Programme and, if time allows, some extracts from the Grundrisse. These give us a clearer understanding of how the labour of those earlier texts gets embedded in Marx’s particular way of approaching the fundamentals of politics, ideology and revolutionary practice in his later writings.

The aim is to engage with the overall structure of Marx’s thought in diverse fields of philosophy, politics, history and, eventually, political economy—and to trace the very making of  that larger conceptual framework. Etienne Balibar has argued that what Marx says about philosophy is of immense significance for philosophers, now more than over, but what he offers is not a philosophy but an anti-philosophy. In the same spirit, it is crucial to stress that Marx was not an economist in the prevailing sense of the term, even though the significance of his critique of classical political economy and his magisterial dissection of the capitalist mode of production will last as long as capitalism itself lasts.

Plunging oneself directly in Capital when embarking on a study of Marx is a methodological error. One has to first engage with what Marx himself would probably call the ‘premises’ of his thought and action that made Capital possible in the first place. This course is a study of some of those premises.
Gabriele Schwab
Anthro 289/ CL 210
Imaginary Ethnographies of the Future
Mo 3:00 to 5:50
Office Hours 2:00 to 3:00 and by appointment

Imaginary Ethnographies of the Future

This course facilitates encounters between science fiction and critical theories of the future.  Beginning with theories that provide the grounding for a robust concept of “ethnographies of the future,” (Strathern; Fischer; Rheinberger), we will explore conditions and possibilities of writing the future and then discuss a range of Science Fiction as imaginary ethnographies of the future.  Rather than applying the theories in question to a reading of these literary texts, we will explore their implied theoretical potential as well as their challenges to anthropological or philosophical theories of the future.  One of the goals is to discuss the contribution of literature as a form of writing culture, and particularly of future-oriented writing.  The course should also be helpful in thinking about issues of ethnography as design.  Finally, to enhance the experimental form of this course, I am encouraging students to write their own “ethnography of the future” either in form of a “theory of the future” or in form of a SF short story.  (Conventional papers are, of course, also an option.)  We will end the course with a celebratory gathering with readings from the student projects.

Science Fiction:
Ursula Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven
Emmi Itäranta, Memory of Water
Frank Schatzing, The Swarm
Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble, (The Camille SF parables)
Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy (Volume One)
Marge Piercey, He, She, and It
Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis (Volume One: Dawn)
Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics
Samuel Beckett, The Lost Ones
Documentary film:  Michael Madsen, Into Eternity. 

Marilyn Strathern’s Ethnographies of the Future (Selections)
Michael Fischer’s Emergent Forms of Life (Selections)
Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s Experimental Systems (Intro)
Gabriele Schwab, Imaginary Ethnographies (Intro and chapters on Octavia Butler and Beckett)
Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble (Selections)
Bruno Latour, Faing Gaia (Selections)
Deborah Danowski/Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, The Ends of the World (Selections)
Edward O. Wilson, The Future of Life (Selections)