[ENGL 190] Contesting the Canon: Contemporary Writers Revise and Renegotiate the Classics
How do contemporary writers challenge, revise, and reconstruct the literary canon? In this course, we’ll examine a range of work by contemporary writers like Aimé Césaire, Harryette Mullen, and Chase Berggrun that transforms a canonical text or literary tradition. These writers critique their sources, exposing their complicity with racism, misogyny, and colonialism. And they also open up liberatory possibilities within their sources, using literature as an engine of the political imagination. As we study the interaction between canonical and contemporary texts, we’ll come to see literature is not the product of isolated geniuses. Instead, it’s a conversation—a fractious, contentious, and vibrant conversation that stretches across history. You’ll be invited to join that conversation: reworking some of the texts we read together, trying out the techniques we study, responding to and critiquing the canon on your own terms.