Aesthetics and Rhetoric – “They fill you with the faults they had”*: The Poetics, Philosophy, and Politics of 20th- and 21st-Century Families in America
109 001 | CCN: 31234
“They fill you with the faults they had”*: The Poetics, Philosophy, and Politics of 20th- and 21st-Century Families in America
Instructor: Ramona Naddaff
Location: Dwinelle 215
Date / Time: Mo/We/Fr 11:00am - 11:59am
(*From Philip Larkin, “This be the Verse”)
The “American” family comes in many shapes, forms and sizes—as do theories and fiction about it. There are short stories, novels, poems, memoirs, graphic novels, television shows, to mention but a few sites where narratives and images, descriptions and expressions, praise and blame, about the family happen. Philosophers, psychoanalysts, and political theorists concern themselves also with ways to configure families within their conceptual frameworks such that they reinforce and/or subvert normative claims and values, and construct relations between family and state, public and private spheres. This course proposes to explore the multiple rhetorical representations of the family in 20th-and 21st-Century America. Through readings from history, philosophy, literary criticism, gender theory and sociology, we will examine critically how the nuclear family (in particular) shapes and misshapes, forms and deforms identities and aspirations, relationships and attachments, values and loyalties. Before reading contemporary “American” literature, we will begin with ancient Greek tragedies for they have guided, for better and for worse, visions of familial influences, destruction, and structures. Readings include Sophocles and Euripides; Hegel, Engels, Freud, Lacan, and Butler; Toni Morrison, Alison Bechdel and Justin Torres; Reyna Grande, Park Hong and Maggie Nelson, among others.
This course is an upper-division writing -intensive seminar. This Art of Writing seminar will culminate with a long-form writing project as well as experiment with other modes of writing, such as the dialogue, the epistle, the book review, the op-ed, the blog post, and the email. Students enrolled in this class should expect to write at least 2-4 pages per week. Writing exercises will be attentively reviewed and copy-edited by instructors. A final writing project of 8-10 pages will be due at the end of the semester. Writing, rewriting, and more rewriting of this project will begin mid-semester.