ENGL*3960 (02) Seminar: Literature in History (ENGL*3960) | College of Arts

ENGL*3960 (02) Seminar: Literature in History (ENGL*3960)

Code and section: ENGL*3960*02

Term: Winter 2017

Instructor: Gregor Campbell


This course offers an introduction to how literary and cultural texts are imbedded in their time. We will attempt to consider the major political and social movements of the 1960s—the Civil Rights movement, the rise of Black Power and Black nationalism, the rise of a New Left, the return to history of active protest in the anti-Vietnam War movement, the rise of student activism and calls to change education, the rebirth of feminism, global decolonization and national liberation, the birth of a counterculture, the generation gap, the birth of environmental awareness and activism, gay and lesbian liberation—in relation to poetry, fiction, nonfiction, film and music. The counterculture itself, which found a space within mass culture in the form of progressive rock music, drug use, sexual liberation, and a celebration of youth, perhaps found expression as a force of innovation in literary genres that predate the sixties. Historical reality will be represented by specific texts of the period collected in the anthology Takin’ It to the Streets: A Sixties Reader. Students will be encouraged to expand on their knowledge of the period with extra reading, but it will not be a course requirement. This is a seminar course, so students will be encouraged to develop and expand upon their own interests be it the rise of indigenous voices in North America (Idle No More in 2013), the return of protest (Occupy Wall Street) or student activism in the streets in Quebec in the Spring of 2012. Topic in relation to the 60s may include the relationship between literature/culture and social change, the possibilities of change in the arena of human consciousness, an evaluation of success and failure for particular projects such as the Civil Rights movement, and a consideration of possible lasting effects of the sixties on politics, sexual identities, countercultures, subcultures, and mass culture


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