ENG399 201801 Undergraduate

Fall 2018
ENG 399
Applies To: 
Special Topic: Literature and the Modern State: Race, Surveillance, War

Mark Whalan

Mark Whalan profile picture
  • Title: Professor
  • Additional Title: Head of English, Horn Endowed Professor
  • Phone: 541-346-3926
  • Office: 207 PLC
  • Office Hours: By appointment
Department Section Description: 

This course will examine a variety of texts that engage the modern state–its functions and possibilities; its ability to repress and coerce; its ability to forge new and enduring kinds of social connection; and what place, if any, it allows for literary culture.

It will examine some of the ways in which literature and the state engage with one another—the tradition of utopian and dystopian literature; how the state surveilled and monitored radical writing in the twentieth century; and how writers wrote about war. A particular focus will be on how the state has helped produce or re-inforce forms of racial identity and racial/colonial oppression, and how writers have sought to resist those processes and imagine radical alternatives. Authors studied will include Kazuo Ishiguro, Claude McKay, J.M. Coetzee, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and D'Arcy McNickle.


C-Literature 1789-Present

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.


Empire, Race, and/or Ethnicity courses focus on ways that race matters in literature, media, and culture.  Recent courses have examined such matters as native American literature and film; nineteenth-century writings by slavers and enslaved people in the U.S. and British colonies; fiction and filmmaking in post-apartheid South Africa; Latinx science fiction and environmental justice, and the novels of Toni Morrison.

English Minor

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.