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ENGL 480--Literary Studies in a Moment of Crisis - Public Symposium

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Monday, May 1710:00 AM – 11:30 AM (via Zoom - TBA)

Literary Studies Seminar students in spring 2021 are exploring what it means to study literature in a moment of overlapping and ongoing social and environmental crises, with Professor Brooke Stanley. Please join us as students present their capstone projects Monday, May 17, 2021 from 10:00 am - 11:30 am (via Zoom).

Course description:

What does it mean to study literature in a moment of global crisis? If you’ve tried to explain your English major to somebody, you’ve perhaps thought about this question before. It can be hard to insist on the value of books when wildfires and hurricanes are raging, COVID-19 has altered daily reality, and anti-Black violence continues to rupture society. And yet, in times of crisis, literary study might be more important than ever.

In this course, we are considering how literature and humanities scholarship confront a range of urgent issues, including environmental justice, refugeeism, xenophobia, structural racism, reproductive justice, and pandemics. We have approached these various crises through contemporary literature by Global South, Black, Indigenous, and Latinx authors, in dialogue with literary theory and cultural criticism from a wide range of subfields: we’ve read examples of scholarship from the environmental humanities, postcolonial studies, Indigenous studies, Black studies, feminism and trans feminism, queer studies, critical race theory, queer of color critique, and disability studies. What do rhetorics of “crisis,” “apocalypse,” “disaster,” and “catastrophe” reveal, and what do they obscure? What other frameworks do literature and scholarship offer for thinking about large-scale problems? What do we learn from a literary approach to crisis or hope? Students in this class are developing Capstone Projects that interrogate such questions in relation to one or more of the aforementioned fields. Capstone Projects may take the form of either a literary-critical essay or a research-based public humanities project.

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