Laura Mandell Lori Merish
370 Bachelor Hall, 529-5276 372 Bachelor Hall, 529-1917
MW 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. and by appointment MW 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. and by appointment

710.I: The Politics of Literary Affect -- A Transatlantic Course
Miami Summer Institute, 1998
2:00 to 5:00 p.m., Bachelor Reading Room

Course Description:
In this course, we will assess some of the political implications of aesthetically pleasing, emotionally charged rhetoric in British and American texts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, texts about imperialism, colonialism, and slavery. Registration will include participation in a two-day conference, Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6, including talks by four eminent literary scholars: Julie Ellison, Harryette Mullen, Michael Warner, and Cora Kaplan.
Questions of the politics of "the aesthetic," or of aesthetic theories and practices, have recently received a lot of press, from Terry Eagleton's Ideology of the Aesthetic to the more recently published Formal Charges by Susan Wolfson to recent work, on the historically less formalist American literary critical side, by such writers as Jane Tompkins, Michael Warner, and Saidiya Hartman. Instead of promoting catharsis, or offering instruction and delight, picturesque and sentimental cultural forms work toward producing a surplus of affect and with it various kinds desiring subjects who are imbricated in the political and economic practices of the time. Participants at this seminar and conference will ask, what is the connection between aesthetics and affect, and what are the political implications of the deployment of certain kinds of affect in British and American texts about imperialism, colonialism, and slavery? Understanding the "cultural work" of literary affect during this period requires situating the production of literary emotion in relation to such broad historical phenomena as: 1) the emergence of British and U.S. nationalisms in the context of transnational economic practices such as the slave trade; 2) the emergence of the "black Atlantic"; and 3) the global connections between imperialism and capitalism. The transatlantic focus enables us to study the close connections between British and American aesthetic theories and practices during this period, connections easily obscured by disciplinary and national boundaries, while allowing us to more richly contextualize the cultural production of literary affect.

Course Work and Grading:
The grading for this course will be organized by a grading contract: you will get an A if you read conscientiously (i.e., read all the material assigned) and write thoughtful papers (papers in which you are clearly struggling with issues in a profound way, not necessarily papers that have worked out answers). As to required writing, you may choose to write two 5- to 7-page papers or to work on something longer of your own (for example, a chapter of a thesis or an article you are planning to publish). Because the class is so short and concentrated, you may also choose when to turn in your first paper. The first paper will be due either 5/25 or 6/1. The advantage of writing a paper after the first week of class is that we will be able to return this paper to you before the end of class; papers turned in on 6/1 will not be returned until after class is over. Your second paper or longer project is due Wednesday, 6/10.

Required Texts:

Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, Mary / Mathilda, ed. Janet Todd
William Hill Brown, The Power of Sympathy
Frederick Douglass, The Narrative and Selected Writings
Two Handout Packets at Oxford Copy Shop (one available now, one next week)
Oxford Copy Shop, 10 S. Poplar St., 523-3636


Week 1 Reading Packet #1

5/18 M Introduction
Jonathan Swift, “Phyllis, or the Progress of Love” (handout)
Mary Leapor, from Crumble-Hall (handout)

5/19 T Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary (get through ½ of it if you can)
Henry Abelove, “Some Speculations on the History of Sexual Intercourse”
Erica Harth, “The Virtue of Love: Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act”
Ethel Spector Person, “Romantic Love: At the Intersection of the Psyche and the Cultural Unconscious”

5/20 W finish Mary
Kaja Silverman, “The Dominant Fiction”
Raymond Williams, “Structures of Feeling” (handout)

5/21 R Lauren Berlant, “America, Post-Utopia”
Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Alice Doane’s Appeal”
Thomas Day, “The Dying Negro
Lydia Maria Child, “The Quadroon”

Week 2 Reading Packet #1

5/25 M William Hill Brown, The Power of Sympathy
Julia Stern, “The Plight of Feeling”
Jay Fliegleman, selection from Prodigals and Pilgrims
Paper 1 Due (for those of you on the early plan)

5/26 T Stallybrass and White, from The Politics and Poetics of Transgression
Julia Kristeva, from The Powers of Horror
Laura Kipnis, “(Male) Desire and (Female) Disgust: Reading Hustler”
Edgar Allen Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher”
Optional: Laura Kipnis (with Jennifer Reeder), “White Trash Girl”

5/27 W Edmund Burke, from A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas on the Sublime and the Beautiful and from Reflections on the Revolution in France
David Hume, “Of Tragedy”
Terry Eagleton, “The Law of the Heart” from Aesthetics and Ideology

5/28 R Adam Smith, from The Theory of Moral Sentiments
A. O. Hirschman, from The Passions and the Interests
Thomas L. Haskell, “Capitalism and the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility”
David Brion Davis, “Reflections on Abolitionism and Ideological Hegemony”

Week 3 Reading Packet #2

6/1 M John Barrell, Introduction to “The Dark Side of the Landscape”
Sir William Chambers, from A Dissertation on Oriental Gardening
Uvedale Price, from An Essay on the Picturesque
William Gilpin, from Three Essays
Archibald Alison, from Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste
Paper 1 Due (unless you turned your paper in last Monday)

6/2 T Mary Louise Pratt, from Imperial Eyes
Mungo Park, from Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa
William Wordsworth, “To Toussaint L’ouverture”

6/3 W Frederick Douglass, The Narrative (1845)
Saidiya Hartman, from Scenes of Subjection
Karen Sánchez-Eppler, “Bodily Bonds: The Intersecting Rhetorics of Feminism and Abolition”

6/4 R Eric Lott, selections from Love and Theft
Renato Rosaldo, from Culture and Truth
Lora Romero, “Vanishing Americans: Gender, Empire, and New Historicism”
James Fenimore Cooper, from The Last of the Mohicans
Anne Yearsley, A Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave Trade

Final Paper Due: Wednesday, June 10.

Brief Conference Schedule:
Friday, June 5
10:00 to 11:15 Julie Ellison
1:00 to 2:15 Michael Warner
2:15 to 3:30 Harryette Mullen
3:30 to 4:30 Breakout sessions
4:30 to 5:30 Reception
Saturday, June 6
1:00 to 2:15 Cora Kaplan
2:30 to 4:00 Panel: Cora Kaplan, Michael Warner, Harryette Mullen, Julie Ellison.
4:00 to 5:30 Reception
8:00 Party