ENG 629 Section 001 3 credit hours
Location: Ross 0275 Time/Day: R 6-9pm
ENG 629: 20th Century British Literature
“Recuperating Alternative Narratives of Class, Gender, and Nation”
Course Description, Purpose, and Structure: In response to a request for financial donations to war efforts during the Spanish Civil War, Virginia Woolf once wrote, “As a woman I have no country. As a woman, I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world” (Three Guineas, 1938). In this statement, she somewhat obliquely, yet powerfully, speaks to the notion that nation-building and empire formation is the work of great and powerful men. As a woman, she has no say in war efforts or prevention because she has no authority. As a woman, her money belongs to her husband or her father, and she cannot willfully donate it without their consent. Her audience, here, is not only to women, but the disenfranchised at large and for whom prevailing ideologies can be damaging.
We begin with Woolf’s statement because this course asks you to delve deep into questions about what alternative narratives might emerge if we are always aware that the dominant (hegemonic) narratives drive cultural and historical production and formation. How might we come to understand a fuller picture of the effects of World War I if we read not only texts from the solider poets, but also from the women at home? What will we see differently if we think about fascism through the lens of feminist speculative fiction? How might we reconsider our expectations about women’s duties during World War II, if we read a middlebrow novel written from the perspective of a young and bored mother, pairing it with war posters of the period? What will we learn about the myth of Mother England and being British by reading immigrant narratives from the post-Windrush generations who faced deep tensions and violence because of their origins (nations formerly of the Empire)?
Through looking carefully at the myriad experiences of 20th century Britishness through texts that deeply challenge embedded notions of nation, race, class, gender, and age, among other identity categories, we will broaden our comprehension of significant moments in British history by looking at them from unexpected, non-dominant perspectives. And, while this all sounds very serious, we will also question why our own pop culture is so infused with Anglophilia from Downton Abbey to Call the Midwife to Doctor Who. Most of the texts we will read this semester are non-“canonical” and many are by understudied women writers. Thus, you’ll have the opportunity to widen your exposure to alternative narratives and experiences. As this is a graduate seminar, the course is discussion-based and student-content driven. That means you hold an integral part of generating the specific conversations about the texts that contribute to the interpretations we develop as a learning community.
1) By actively reading, discussing, and writing about the works on offer, you will examine and evaluate how literature can provide ways of interpreting the effects of cultural moments and, through comparisons between texts, you will observe the multiple narratives and histories that infuse cultural and literary development.
2) By honing your critical thinking skills, you will develop a sensitivity to the problems with hegemonic narratives by working through the lenses of spatial, feminist, queer, and other theories to think about race, class, gender, and sexuality.
With thoughtful response papers, you will help ignite and facilitate the class conversation with your colleagues, a critical skill to develop for those of you who are or are planning to teach.
3) By writing and responding to your colleagues’ weekly blog posts, you will compose and collaborate in a digital environment and learn how to become a responsible digital citizen. You’ll develop impeccable netiquette.
4) Through each type of writing, you’ll analyze texts and draw comparisons by integrating close-readings with cultural analysis, historical research, and current scholarship, all while fine-tuning your sense of audience.
5) Collaboratively, and to develop literary research skills, you will contribute to a digital bibliographic archive, help shape it as a viable research tool, and propose an argument for its use value.
Texts: Available in the bookstore. However, I suggest ordering from a reputable online source. Note: Persephone Press texts take time to arrive as you must order them from the UK. Please plan ahead.
Rebecca West The Return of the Soldier (1918) Broadview Press
Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway (1925) intro by Bonnie Kime Scott, Harcourt.
Sylvia Townsend Warner Lolly Willowes (1926) nyrb Press.
Stevie Smith Novel on Yellow Paper (1936)
Katharine Burdekin Swastika Night (1937) Feminist Press, CUNY
Marghanita Laski To Bed with Grand Music (1946) Persephone Press.
Graham Greene The Third Man (1949) Penguin
Dick Hebdige Subculture: The Meaning of Style (1979)
Colin MacInnes Absolute Beginners (1959)
Buchi Emecheta Second Class Citizen (1975)
Zadie Smith White Teeth (2001)
Your secondary readings will usually be available to you via citation information (that means you need to use the Michener Library databases to locate the item). On some occasions, I will make the reading available to you via pdf, particularly if it is a difficult piece to locate. All secondary readings will be listed on the schedule of events at least one week prior to each class meeting.
Seminar Paper: The main work of this course is your final seminar paper, 18-20 pages, due at the end of the semester. You will determine your own topic, and your paper must demonstrate participation in the scholarly conversation about your topic by employing current scholarship on the issues you approach. You should have an idea about your topic by October 27th, enough to say a word or two about in class. By November 3rd, you’ll post a proposal to the blog. During the last several class meetings (including finals week), we’ll run conference-style panel presentations where you’ll present a short version (7-8 pages; 15 minutes) of your project. (40%) SEMINAR PAPER ASSIGNMENT DETAILS
Blog posts: Digital literacy and audience is paramount in conversations about pedagogy and scholarship, and this course offers you an opportunity to develop your digital literacy so you can begin to employ it in your own teaching and research. Our blog is a place to stay actively engaged in the readings and ongoing discussion. You may use it to ask questions, offer potential readings, draw connections between texts, and respond to each others’ ideas. To receive full credit for participation and engagement on the blog, you should post, at minimum, once per week. While there is no length requirement on posts, they should introduce a question or a claim, use textual support, be thoughtful in their content, and grammatically clean. Responses to each others’ posts can and should spark debate but remain respectful in tone. You may reblog to your own blog as much as you like, but be sure to credit others where it is due. The blog is available to anyone on the internet, so you may garner a following. (20%)
Response paper: Once this term, you will write a two page response paper on the week’s reading. Your paper should combine some textual analysis of the primary text with an informed, open-ended question, or set of related questions that you pose to the class. You may incorporate secondary readings into your response papers. Remember a Works Cited at the end of the document. You’ll present your paper to us orally. Bring a class set of hard copies to pass around. Then, within 24 hours after class, please post your paper on the blog (uploaded pdf, tagged “Response Paper”). You may revise your paper before posting to refine your thoughts, or questions; though, I will grade the paper copy, so it should be your cleanest work. (20%)
Annotated Bibliography: Each of you will be responsible for building an annotated bibliography for one of the primary texts and posting your collection to our blog (uploaded pdf, tagged “annotated bib”). Your 10 item list should be comprised of books, book chapters, and peer-reviewed journal articles that you believe are most relevant and most helpful to launch research on the primary text. These items should be in addition to the secondary readings I’ve given you. While you should privilege newer scholarship, older scholarship can be included if your annotation supports it as a foundational piece for understanding the debates around your chosen text. Some of our primary texts won’t have 10 items directly related to them, so your task will be to find things that will help shape a scholarly conversation around them. Each annotation should begin with a full bibliographic reference in MLA style followed with a short paragraph (100-150 words in length) that guides us to the content of the source and your assessments of its merits and significance. You’ll share the highlights of your list with us on the day it’s due. (20%)
Attendance: Missing class whilst a graduate student is highly unadvised. Life happens. Kids get sick. Partners have business trips. Parents want you to come home to visit. Pets die. However, none of these things should interfere with your priority of attending your graduate seminars. Should you come down with a grave illness and need to miss class to protect yours and our health, be in touch with me before the class you need to miss and be sure to have a colleague take good notes for you.
University Resources: You can always come talk with me about anything. Finding a balance between your teaching, research, course work, and personal lives can seem impossible, but it’s best to communicate anxieties and difficulties with those who know the feeling best–your professors. Communications will remain confidential, and, should you desire, I will do my best to point you to useful campus resources.
Counseling Center Services—Cassidy Hall; 970.351.2496
Disability Support Services—Michener L-80; Any student requesting disability accommodations for this class must inform the instructor and give appropriate notice. Students are encouraged to contact the DSS 970.351.2289 to certify documentation of disability and to ensure appropriate accommodations are implemented in a timely manner.
From the Dean of Students Office:
Academic Honesty Policy: One of the pleasures and responsibilities of scholarship is learning how to learn from others and to give them the credit for what you have learned. Plagiarism is a betrayal of the uniqueness of your mind. It is also a violation of university policy and is, in some cases, a criminal offense. It and other forms of cheating will not be tolerated. Please see the Dean of Students webpage for a full description of UNC’s Academic Integrity Policy.
Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Statement
The University of Northern Colorado prohibits and will not tolerate sexual misconduct or gender-based discrimination of any kind. UNC is legally obligated to investigate sexual misconduct (including, but not limited to sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, and intimate partner violence). If you disclose an incident of sexual misconduct to a faculty member, they have an obligation to report it to UNC’s Title IX Coordinator. “Disclosure” may include communication in-person, via email/phone/text message, or through in/out of class assignments. If you wish to speak confidentially about an incident of sexual misconduct, please contact the UNC Counseling Center (970 351-2496) or the Assault Survivors Advocacy Program (970-351-4040). If you would like to learn more about sexual misconduct or report an incident, please visit http://www.unco.edu/sexualmisconduct/.
Equity and Inclusion Statement
The University of Northern Colorado embraces the diversity of students, faculty, and staff, honors the inherent dignity of each individual, and welcomes their unique perspectives, behaviors, and worldviews. In this course, people of all races, religions, national origins, sexual orientations, ethnicities, genders and gender identities, cognitive, physical, and behavioral abilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, regions, immigrant statuses, military or veteran statuses, size and/or shapes are strongly encouraged to share their rich array of perspectives and experiences. Course content and campus discussions will heighten your awareness to each other’s individual and intersecting identities. The Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities (located in Decker Hall) serves as resource to anyone seeking support or with questions about equity and inclusion at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC). If you are a witness to or experience acts of bias at UNC and would like to learn more about bias response or report a bias incident, please visit Bias Response at http://www.unco.edu/biasresponse/.