(De)construction of Identities in Literature and Cultures in English
This course examines the works of some prominent USA writers through a close reading of a selection of their short stories, essays, plays, and novels. The frame objectives of the course are:
1. Widen and deepen our knowledge of American (USA) literature, focusing on the representations of the domestic space in American literature.
2. Understand how the critical issue of the cultural construction and representation of the domestic space is associated with and animated by these writers’ works.
3. Demonstrate the ability to conceptualize and write critical analyses informed by relevant theoretical materials on the notion of the domestic space in the frame of contemporary critical thought.
The specific objectives are:
1. Develop abilities to discuss one’s position on the possibilities of thinking domesticity / the domestic space through the study of literature.
2. Acquire theoretical tools that will help us discuss the connection of the domestic space to issues such as: Orientation, Temporality, Affiliation, Exposure, Rationality, Community, The Child, Memory, The World, Refuge, Hos(ti)pitality.
3. Produce a final essay that represents a contribution to the field of domestic studies in literature.
What Do We Study
Students will read a number of literary texts from the United States of the 20th and the 21st centuries that include short stories, novels, plays, and poetry.
Which is the Line of Thought
The course is based on the following theoretical tools: Orientation (Sara Ahmed), Temporality (Elizabeth Freeman), Affiliation (Mark Rifkin), Exposure (Judith Butler), Cohousing (Charlotte Perkins Gilman), The Child (Lee Edelman), The World (Homi Bhabha), Community (Avishai Margalit), and Hostipitality (Jacques Derrida).
Theoretical and Practical Approaches
Briganti, Chiara & Kathy Mezei. The Domestic Space Reader. University of Toronto Press, 2012.
de Botton, Alain. The Architecture of Happiness. Penguin, 2014.
On Domestic Spaces in/and American Literature:
Anderson, Douglas. A House Undivided. Domesticity and Community in American Literature. Cambridge University Press, 1990.
Brown, Gillian. Domestic Individualism. Imagining Self in Nineteenth-Century America. University of California Press, 1990.
Brown, Julia Prewitt. The Bourgeois Interior. How the Middle Class Imagines Itself in Literature and Film. University of Virginia Press, 2008.
Chandler, Marilyn. Dwelling in the Text. Houses in American Fiction. University of California Press, 1991.
Fuss, Diana. The Sense of an Interior. Four Writers and the Rooms that Shaped Them. Routledge, 2004.
Hellman, Caroline C. Domesticity and Design in American Women's Lives and Literature. Stowe, Alcott, Cather, and Wharton Writing Home. Routledge, 2011.
Levander, Carolin F. Where is American Literature? Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.
McClatchy, J.D. American Writers at Home. The Library of America, 2004.
Wiley, Catherine & Fiona R. Barnes. Homemaking. Women Writers and the Politics and Poetics of Home. Garland, 1996.
Zaborowska, Magdalena J. Me and My House. James Baldwin's Last Decade in France. Duke University Press, 2018.
General on Domestic Spaces:
Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space. 1957. Penguin, 2014.
Bryson, Bill. At Home. A Short History of Private Life. Black Swan, 2010.
Rybczynski, Witold. Home. A Short History of an Idea. Penguin, 1987.
Segarra, Marta. Room, House, Street. Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, 2014.
On other (un)livable 'domestic' spaces:
Goffman, Erving. Asylums. Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. Anchor Books, 1961.
Brown, Bill. A Sense of Things: The Object Matter of American Literature. University of Chicago Press, 2003.