Thursday, August 10, 2006

Of birds and breadcrumbs

Well, back to work ...

It has been a lovely little idyll for the last three weeks or so in driving back out east, with all the fun along the way chronicled on this blog, but now I look at the mountain of crap on my desk and sigh. And Kristen left yesterday. And it's raining.

Pathetic fallacy sucks.

So naturally I'm updating my blog. But I justify this tangential act as part of the general organizational process. I am really not one of those people who can take a break from work and then just pick up as if no time has past -- in fact, I hate those people who can do that with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. After three weeks, I'm looking at my various research notes and feeling a little like the birds have eaten all the breadcrumbs.

That being said, I am quite stoked to be back at it. I did actually get a lot done in London (surprisingly enough), and so there's a bunch of things I now need to start putting a bow on. Also, I get to start preparing my courses for the year. Huzzah!

I'm very pleased with the way the teaching fell out for me this year. First semester I've got the second-year course on the 20th-century American novel, and a fourth-year seminar on post-1945 American lit. I've been having a lot of fun assembling the second one ... I'm taking a lot of license with it, and tossing in -- in addition to the requisite literature -- film and some popular culture elements.

Second semester I'll be doing the classroom version of the web course I've been developing on modern American poetry, and I'll be teaching my first grad course. Nervous! I've decided to go the route of stuff related to my current research, with a particular focus on conceptions of "the end of history." I'm very pleased with the title I've worked out: "Dispatches From the End of History: Teleology, Democracy and Apocalypse in the American Postmodern." And this is the tentative blurb I've written describing it:

The rumours of history’s ending, it would appear, have been greatly exaggerated. And yet its various figurations continue to excite the contemporary imagination: from millennial anxieties to apocalyptic fantasies to end-times speculations, the desire to escape history has been a powerful force in the American psyche from the Puritans onward.

This course will explore a range of texts and contexts that consider the American postmodern’s ambivalent preoccupations with history, focusing primarily on a selection of literature from the 1990s that has resonances with the Cold War’s own peculiarly historicist anxieties. Works by Don DeLillo, Chuck Palahniuk, Philip Roth and Tony Kushner, as well as the films The Manchurian Candidate, The Matrix, Fight Club and Dark City will be read in the context of writings by Hegel, Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin, Fredric Jameson, Slavoj Zizek, Hayden White, Daniel Bell, Francis Fukuyama, Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard.

The way I'm figuring it now, there will be four books and four films -- DeLillo's Underworld, Roth's The Human Stain, Palahniuk's Fight Club and Kushner's play Angels in America. Those are pretty much set in stone now, but I'm still not sold on the films. So I welcome suggestions: any thoughts on what films might be appropriate to this subject? The only criteria are this: they have to be American (in production if not in setting, so V for Vendetta is a candidate while 28 Days Later is not), and they should be from the mid-late nineties up to today.

OK. Now I really do have to get to work. Slainte!


iFreud said...

Your course sounds fascinating. If I was an undergrad, I would take your course. I like your choice of films, and authors.

amy said...

I want to take that grad course.

Lesley said...

You know, I read your blog and I think that I would love to take your courses just because they sound so darn interesting. Then I read the description (sometimes reading it several times to actually understand it) and I come to the conclusion that it's a good thing I don't take your classes because I would fail them, and fail miserably. Sigh...good luck though, nice to see you so excited about "going back to school"!

Anonymous said...

Pi is also a pretty good movie about a genius mathematician who discovers the true name of god in his head and goes insane. Then of course everyone is after him to control the name in some way (one woman to control the stock market with the 'pattern' of it, and another sect of jews because of their religious faith). You should check it out.

I stumbled on to your blog and curiously enough I'll be taking your American novel course come September. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

J Power said...

teleological -- love that word. It sounds like a hell of a course, Chris.

Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Chris and all,

Hope this is not too off topic for you.

If you want to finally understand what is behind much of the ancient history that so enthralls America and most of the world, be a little patient and I promise to amaze and enlighten. Hopefully you'll be able to wow your students beyond their wildest dreams...

At the core of the deceptions used to manipulate humanity is the concept of religion. Without it, Bush, the Neo-Cons, and their cohorts could never have gained and retained political power by manipulating an already deluded and susceptible constituency. Likewise, their thinly veiled partners in crime, Bin Laden and his ilk, could never have succeeded in their roles in this centuries-old Vatican-led grand deception.

We are all stuck in a web of interlocking deception formed by money, religion, and politics. The great evils that bedevil us all will never cease until humanity finally awakens, shakes off these strong delusions, and forges a new path to the future.

Understanding the Fatal Flaws in Judeo-Christian-Islamic Prophecy

As certain world leaders strive to instigate a fabricated "battle of Armageddon," it is vital to understand and spread the truth about these ancient texts to help bring about an end to such abominable evil.

You can never expect philosophies based on lies and great error to lead to peace and harmony. How many more millennia of terrible proof is necessary before humanity finally gets a clue that most have been utterly deceived by the very concept of religion.

Pay close attention, profundity knocks at the door, listen for the key. Be Aware! Scoffing causes blindness...

Read the article here...