MWF 12:30-1:20 pm
Cross-listed with ENGL 390AX.
Fulfills diversity requirement.
When the rights of individuals are trampled throughout the world, writers often rise in protest against the political authority of states, regimes, and ideologies. The result is a literature of protest against injustices that span the globe, literary works that confront everything from international slave labor systems to the excesses of capitalism and communism. Historically, the authors who challenged the political authority under such circumstances were also challenging “authoritative” texts, power disseminated through the official channels of laws, policies, and governments that depended on writing to establish and maintain their own legitimacy. As imaginative literary texts, this protest literature affirmed just how influential creative responses could be as they circulated through ever-widening reading communities, crossed borders of both geography and time, and spurred audiences toward reflection and action. Whether a personal narrative of human trafficking or a novel whose magical realism points to the oppression of dictatorial regimes, the texts we will study in this course have sought to challenge and to change the world. Even when they focus on personal experiences or particular nations, they do so with an eye toward larger global struggles over human rights and the individual’s relationship to political authority.
The first two units in the course are organized around major historical situations that inspired literature of global protest in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. “Human Slavery and Protest in the Age of Nation-Building” primarily explores abolitionist texts from the United States and Great Britain, though it also takes up literature that does not fit so neatly into these national boundaries (such as Olaudah Equiano’s slave narrative or excerpts from Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda’s Sab). “On the Edge of the Cold War: Latin American Literature of Dissent” focuses on literary texts from Central and South America written in response to localized oppression and political upheaval that echoed the international struggle between capitalism and communism. The final unit, “The Arab Spring’s Writing of Protest and Promise in a New Global Age,” will consider literature from a movement that is still unfolding, its future (and the future of its writing) yet unknown. Students in the course will complete a series of brief, informal responses and assignments, two short, formal papers, and a longer, final paper (of approximately 10 pages).