Intro to Lit: Literary History (Servants in Lit)

What is domestic service? What constitutes ‘good’ versus
‘bad’ service? What is the social and political status of servants? Do servants
have power? Who performs the work of servants in modern society? We will think
about these and other pressing question surrounding work, power and servitude
in this class.

We will read books as varied as Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (about a butler
whose exemplary service compromises his politics) and Nicola Kraus and Emma
McLaughlin’s The Nanny Diaries (about
parents behaving badly in New York City). We will also read the recent novel The Help by Kathryn Stockett as well as
essays about immigrant caregivers and domestic workers in modern-day America to
explore the connections between service, race, gender and nationality. Finally,
we will watch the film Gosford Park
alongside episodes of the enormously popular TV series Upstairs Downstairs and Downton
to decipher the significance of domestic labour in the cultural

This course fulfils a WI writing-intensive requirement, and
assignments will include a report on hotel work in Hawai’i, position papers on
women, race and labour, blog posts and debates.