Today, an overwhelming number of U.S. Americans feels out of touch with the socio-political mainstream. The sentiment that those ‘in power’ do not properly address the concerns of those they are supposed to serve seems to be a perceived reality shared by many. In a similar vein, the feeling of ‘not-belonging’ has encouraged many Americans to take their apprehensions to the streets or turn to populists for representation. Others, meanwhile, feel discouraged from participating in public and political discourse altogether. In this seminar, we will investigate the notion of abandon/ment that seems to unite many Americans through the lens of contemporary U.S. literature, film, and other cultural artifacts. We will challenge ourselves to consider (and perhaps empathize with) perspectives that may be different from our own and simultaneously confront them with cutting-edge advancements from the fields of Gender Studies, Queer Studies, and Postcolonial-Studies. Our readings will include J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, and we will consider films such as AMERICAN HONEY and THE FLORIDA PROJECT. However, the seminar will be structured in a way that allows for students’ interests to be accommodated.
Vance, J.D.. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. William Collins, 2017. ISBN: 978-0008220563.
AMERICAN HONEY, Andrea Arnold (2016)
THE FLORIDA PROJECT, Sean Baker (2017)
Secondary material will be made available.
Active participation, including reading and writing assignments, participation in class discussion, a short presentation, and a seminar paper (6000 words).