Instructor: Alexandra Teague
8-10:50 a.m., June 14-27
Particularly since Cave Canem was founded in 1996 to mentor, and help draw recognition to the work of, young African American poets, more contemporary African American poetry has been winning national and international awards. Currently, African American poets are writing some of the most formally innovative and influential work in America. This course will consider a range of this poetry, from Terrance’s Hayes’ new form “The Golden Shovel” (developed in response to Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool,” and of which an entire anthology was recently published); to Tyehimba Jess’s contrapuntal poems, which can read in multiple directions and owe repetitive/syntactical techniques to blues poetry; to Evie Shockley’s jazz-influenced and sonically stinging poems in semiautomatic; to Shane McCrae’s sonnets and meter; to Jericho Brown’s new “duplex” form; to Patricia Smith’s spoken-word-influenced persona poems. In addition to considering poetic and social context, we’ll also consider this contemporary work in relation to key influences/antecedents, including work from the Harlem Renaissance poets (including lesser-known women poets such as Georgia Douglas Johnson), and the blues tradition; poems by Cave Canem founders Cornelius Eady and Toi Derricotte; Gwendolyn Brooks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning retelling of “The Aeneid,” “The Anniad”; and the under-taught High Modernist-influenced long poem by Melvin Tolson, “Harlem Gallery."
Thinking Feeling: Emotions in Literature, Teaching, and the World
Instructor: Jennifer Ladino
11 a.m. to 1:50 p.m., June 14-27
This course approaches emotion, or affect, from theoretical, literary-critical, interdisciplinary, and pedagogical perspectives in order to gain a better sense of how readers, viewers, and students experience emotional responses to texts, and how affect circulates in complicated intertextual and interpersonal ways. We’ll consider the role of emotions in generating empathy (in readers, for example), evaluate how emotions like love, anger, and shame function in public discourse, and think about how emotions and affect are generated not just within but perhaps by particular environments. We’ll apply our research to primary texts, including non-fiction, fiction, and poetry, as well as films and other cultural texts. You will play a key role in shaping this class as you bring your own ideas, concerns, questions, and favorite texts into the classroom. In fact, you will choose most of the primary texts that we’ll read as we work through these and other questions:
- To what degree are emotions biologically “hard-wired”? To what degree are they context-dependent and culturally contingent?
- What’s the best way to understand the relationship between emotion and cognition?
- Do emotions originate from inside of us, or from outside of us, or in some combination? And why might our answer to this question matter?
- How are emotions transferred between individuals? Or between individuals and our environments?
- In what ways are emotions tied to aspects of identity such as gender, race, class, and sexuality?
- How do writers appeal to (or otherwise manipulate) readers using emotions? What craft techniques are most useful in developing empathy among readers?
We’ll draw primarily on affect theory—a sometimes opaque but usually fascinating body of scholarship—to help think through some answers. Theorizing affect is a multi-disciplinary effort, and we’ll read scholarship from psychology, anthropology, ecocriticism, and neuroscience to try to make some sense of what affect is and how it works. You will leave this course with a rich toolbox to enhance your scholarly and pedagogical projects and, maybe, your life outside of academia. Course discussions, short response papers, and annotated bibliographies will prepare you to write a unique seminar paper that applies some aspect of affect studies to a primary text of your choosing. Course texts may include all or selections (marked with *) of the following:
- Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotions*
- Glenn Albrecht, Earth Emotions*
- Brian Blanchfield, Proxies*
- Antonio Damasio, The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness*
- Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
- Suzanne Keen, Narrative Empathy*
- Sianne Ngai, Ugly Feelings*
- Claudia Rankine, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely
- Kathleen Stewart, Ordinary Affects*