The Modernist Object 

Readers have traditionally prioritized human characters in literature, finding in those figures a correlative for our own experience of the world. In doing so they have affirmed a subject/object binary in which people exercise varying degrees of control over an allegedly inert material world. However, recent work in literary and cultural studies, philosophy, sociology and anthropology has worked to trouble this opposition. In complex and intriguing ways, contemporary “thing theory” and associated schools of thought have suggested that objects act and constitute human subjects in ways we have only begun to recognize. This course will introduce students to some of the core theoretical arguments in the multidisciplinary field of object studies. We will also read a selection of short stories and four novels published in Britain during the interwar period that feature compelling, strange, or disturbing objects. Among our questions will be: what is the correlation between objects and sensation? How do we apprehend things? What happens to objects in the absence of a human observer? Under what circumstances might objects become more important than people?

Students will post weekly to Canvas, give two oral presentations, and write one seminar paper which we will workshop at the end of the semester. Required texts (in addition to a course reader that I will compile): Candlin and Guins, The Object Reader; Virginia Woolf, Orlando; Lytton Strachey, Elizabeth and Essex; Jean Rhys, Good Morning Midnight; Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca.

Studies special topics that focus on a theme, genre, or theoretical issue not limited to a specific period or national tradition. Topics vary each semester.

Repeatable: Repeatable for up to 9.00 total credit hours.
Requisites: Restricted to English (ENGL) and English Lit- Creative Writing (CRWR) graduate students only.
Additional Information:Departmental Category: Graduate Courses

Taught by Jane Garrity.