RCHUMS 318 - Critical Approaches to Literature
Section: 001 Postmodern Positions
Term: WN 2019
Subject: RC Humanities (RCHUMS)
Department: LSA Residential College
Requirements & Distribution:
May be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course is an introduction to postmodernism. It is intended for students who have encountered the term, but who feel uncertain about what it means; for students who have already worked with some of the concepts, but who would like a practical introduction to a selection of the seminal texts; and for students who are just curious.

We will ask such questions as: What is the relation between modernism and postmodernism? Are they diametrically opposed, or deeply implicated in one another? How did the “text” come to be so important – not only as a literary object, but as the definitive constituent of culture itself? What is the relation between “texts” (presumably composed of words or signs) and “history” (composed of events)? What is meant by the “deconstruction of the unified subject” or the “death of the author?” Finally, we will question the role of “theory” in postmodernism. Does theory always have the last word?

Students will be expected to read, absorb, and understand difficult postmodern texts. However, they will not be expected to take up the positions staked out in those texts as their own, if they would prefer not to. Opposition, or even resistance is encouraged; but it should be thoughtful and well-informed. So, we will end by outlining a few arguments critical of postmodernism, and to explore what has emerged in the aftermath of the postmodern moment.

This is an interdisciplinary course involving literature, the visual arts, and critical theory.

Literary works will include: Isak Dinesen, The Blank Page; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; Roland Barthes, S/Z; Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities; Jean Genet, The Maids; Jorge Luis Borges, selected stories from Labyrinths.

Visual material will include works by Cy Twombly, Jennifer Bartlett, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol.

Intended Audience:

All interested students welcome.

RCHUMS 318 - Critical Approaches to Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9780060913076
The crying of lot 49, Author: Pynchon, Thomas, 1937-, Publisher: HarperPerennial 2009
ISBN: 9780156453806
Invisible cities, Author: Calvino, Italo (1923-1985)., Publisher: Harcourt post
ISBN: 9780374521677
S/Z, Author: Barthes, Roland., Publisher: Hill and Wang 1974
ISBN: 9780802150561
The Maids, and, Deathwatch : two plays by Jean Genet, Author: Genet, Jean., Publisher: Grove Press 1989
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