Typically, an English conversation about literature involves the canon of “great works” starting with Beowulf, moving through Shakespeare, Milton, Blake, Keats, Joyce and Eliot etc. Because of feminism, women are frequently woven throughout the list as well: Austen, Shelley, Brontë, and Wolfe etc. While their writing is, no doubt, brilliant, this course will explore more the politics behind writing itself. It will trace the rise of the concept of literature through its development with the Western Academy/University. It will then seek to answer and address how literature has been couched as superior to oral traditions; how literacy was used to legitimize colonization; how it created an elite class who, then, barred others from it; how women have fought for the right to write; and how people of color and queer communities have employed the spoken word as a means of resistance.
This course will engage with various forms of literature ([slam] poetry, prose [novels, novellas, essays, short stories] and drama [theater]) from some of the first written texts up to the 21st century. It will also entertain various feminist, anti-colonial and queer of color theoretical concepts. Students will
then develop their own creative and analytical skills by writing in various forms. Classes will be a mixture of small-group and large class discussions.