After the end of the world
I found myself in the midst of life
--“In the Midst of Life,” Tadeusz Rózewicz
After the cataclysm of WWII, the old order was beginning to crumble. In this aftermath, many artists viewed the structures of empire and capital that undergirded Western civilization with deep suspicion and began to challenge the world that had wrought such destruction, to challenge the modern, to seek the post-modern. To challenge the status quo, then, in many ways, was an ethical response, if not a postwar imperative, that sought to affirm the value and dignity of the individual human life. In this class, we’ll explore the ways that artists sought to make way for new stories and forms that acknowledged their own and others’ humanity.
We’ll read a play, poetry, journalism, and a novel: Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Gwendolyn Brooks’s Selected Poems, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems, Joan Didion’s Slouching Toward Bethlehem, and Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine.
Arts & Letters (A&L) courses create meaningful opportunities for students to engage actively in the modes of inquiry that define a discipline. Courses are broad in scope and demonstrably liberal in nature (that is, courses that promote open inquiry from a variety of perspectives). Though some courses may focus on specialized subjects or approaches, there will be a substantial course content locating that subject in the broader context of the major issues of the discipline. Qualifying courses will not focus on teaching basic skills but will require the application or engagement of those skills through analysis and interpretation.
Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history. Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.