Intro to English Studies

Neither a neutral ground, nor one that exists independently of
social and political concerns, English studies involves the study of a
heterogeneous array of texts and it encompasses a wide range of often competing
or contestatory theories and methodologies. In this introduction to English
studies, we will investigate the production, interpretation, and cultural work
of literary and extraliterary texts. We will survey a range of theories,
fields, and methodologies with attention to their different and related
histories. We will survey traditional approaches and formulations that have
been important to English studies, and consider them in relation to
contemporary debates and trajectories. We will investigate ongoing questions of
aesthetics, ethics, representation, and ideology and think about the stakes of
these topics, and the significance of different positions and approaches to
them. As we define and identify critical approaches (i.e. structuralist,
poststructuralist, psychoanalytic, marxist, feminist, queer, postcolonial,
etc.) and terms (i.e., globalization, indigeneity, diaspora), we will put these
approaches into dialogue with one another in order to understand tensions and
contradictions between various approaches, as well as to discern their similarities
and points of connection. We also will put these theoretical readings in
dialogue with cultural texts (novels, a play, film, youtube videos). The
cultural texts will serve both to illustrate and illuminate the theoretical
readings and also to provide insight into their blindspots and limitations. As
we think throughout this course about the value, aims, and uses of English
studies, we will do so with particular attention to our location in Hawai’i.

Two midterms (~40%); a collaboratively written
parody of a theoretical text (~10%); a final exam with a take-home essay
component (~35%); a class presentation (~5%); short writing assignments, both
in-class and as homework (~10%). Attendance is mandatory.

(to be ordered through Revolution Books):
Alani Apio, Kamau; R. Zamora Linmark, Rolling the Rs;
Toni Morrison, Beloved

FILMS: Anne Keala Kelly (director), Noho Hewa

Packet of supplementary readings.