by Gina Elbert
November has finally come and on college campuses this means the second round of midterms, starting to think about final paper topics, and most importantly choosing classes for the spring semester. This year, registration for spring 2018 classes is from Monday, November 13 to Friday, November 17. The English department’s offerings are robust and feature a variety of classes, from the core courses on British and American Literature to Women of Color Feminisms, the Rise of the Graphic Novel, and cross-listed classes like Dante and His World. If you’re a student and anything like me, you’re still trying to figure out which among this myriad of classes you want to take. I recently spoke to Professor Jini Kim Watson, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Mary Mezzano, Undergraduate Assistant, about a few of the coolest classes on offer this spring. They pointed me to three classes, all taught by new members of the department faculty, each of whom provided me with details supplementary to those on the department website.
City & Literature, taught by Professor Ato Quayson
Tuesdays from 3:30 to 6:10
To hold a book in your hands is like standing before the gates of a new city. This is the rationale around which Professor Quayson has built what he calls a “literary tour of different cities,” including London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, New York, Dublin, Kinshasa, and Accra. This tour will encompass a variety of genres, from detective fiction and science fiction to modernist and post-modernist texts and spatial theory. Professor Quayson, who joined the faculty this year, says “Prepare to acquaint yourself with terms such as chronotopes, spatial morphologies, anamorphism, and many more as well as with new ways of re-imagining the cities of your choice.”
Lyric Conditions: Survival & Reproduction 18th C to Present, taught by Professor Lenora Hanson
Thursdays from 2:00 to 4:45
The Blotter met Professor Hanson a few weeks ago (read more here) through her Literature of Riots class. She’s coming back this spring with a class on lyric poetry that, she says “is obsessed with, and confused about, the difference between living versus nonliving things and animated subjects versus inanimate objects.” Focusing on texts from the 18th century, as well as the contemporary literary world, the class will use lyric poetry as lens for discussing the “right to life” and “what happens to the political and ethical categories of personhood, rights and sentience if we cannot tell the difference between the living and nonliving.” Professor Hanson hopes that “this class will help us to consider how lyric poetry’s frequent inability to distinguish between such categories might help us to devise new answers to pressing questions about related kinds of political and environmental violence.”
Victorian Psychologies of Focus, taught by Professor Adrian Versteegh
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:55 to 6:10
Professor Versteegh is a post-doctoral fellow whose research focuses on nineteenth and twentieth-century urban literature. With a special interest in sleep, distraction, and modes of attention, he will be teaching a course that focuses on the intersection of these topics and Victorian literature in an effort to explore the roots of modern culture’s own obsessions with mental hygiene, the 24-hour economy, media technologies, worry, and the material culture of attention and distraction.