Sep 22, 2020  

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ENG 415 - Seminar: A: Poetics of Relation or B: Style

415 A Poetics of Relation


Poetics of Relation is the rubric for a seminar in which students will analyze the ways in which the discursive forms-novels, plays, essays, and poetry-of two writers relate to specific cultures, landscapes, and historical moments. In its two previous iterations, students have examined such relationships in writings by Nobel Laureates Derek Walcott, Vidia Naipaul, and Wole Soyinka. In Spring 2016, the focus will be, for the first time, on two African American female writers, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.

In addition to close readings, substantive discussions, oral presentations and one major essay, seminar participants will add to an existing Poetics of Relation digital website available through the Davidson College library.

Counts for Africana Studies Department Minor credit.

415 B Style


From Samuel Richardson’s titular heroine Pamela obsessing about her wardrobe (1740), to the conspicuous consumption of Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900), and from the discussion of Hero’s sartorial choices in Much Ado About Nothing (1598) to the iconic Holly Golightly of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958), there is a clear literary history of fashion. This course will consider both fictional and theoretical engagements with fashion alongside the works of authors such as Vladimir Nabokov and Henry James, whose prose reveals the fingerprint specificity of their writing styles. Working from Roland Barthes’s theory in The Fashion System to Cecil Beaton’s diaries and Joseph Roach’s study of the “It” factor (“the easily perceived but hard-to-define quality possessed by abnormally interesting people”), this transcultural and transhistorical course will investigate style as both form and content. Whether we are looking at the fashion and literary styles of the roaring twenties in Fitzgerald’s works or the punk subcultures of the UK in the 1980s, we will question how literary innovation and fashion interpenetrate.

Counts as an innovation course for the major.

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