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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

English Summer Course 3070: American Specters

THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT is pleased to announce its summer course ENGL 3070: American Specters. The course is taught by Wes Burdine and will meet from 6/16 - 8/8 on Tu, W, and Th from 1:25 - 3:20pm. See below for a course abstract.

ENGL 3070 American Specters
The American landscape is dotted with ghosts. From the revenant figures of the American Indians to the legacy of slavery, the ghosts which haunt American culture are both real figures and the figured traces of the past. In recent history, ghosts have become a useful tool for understanding race and legacy in American history. In this class, we will interrogate the ways in which the American psyche has emerged through these haunted encounters. We will read fiction with spades in hands, unearthing the bodies hidden beneath their texts. Some novels we will read, such as Toni Morrison's Beloved quite literally present the ghost as an image of the past returning to haunt. Others such as Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland depict the early American nation as haunted by the beliefs of its religious refugees. We will read more traditional "scary" stories, such as Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Edith Wharton's Ghost Stories, and Henry James' A Turn of the Screw. We will also read some folk stories of "real" ghosts, as well as some examples of how ghosts have materialized in contemporary criticism. We will also ask the troublesome question of just what the implications are of thinking about the past as returning in incorporeal bodies. Does this give the past a power or does it inoculate us from its meaning?