Course: Revisions of Empire

HC 222H

Professor: Mai-Lin Cheng

The idea of the difficult or interrupted journey has long captivated the literary and popular imagination. Through close reading of novels, poems, and plays, we will examine how our texts turn a crisis in journeying into an opportunity to ask questions about exploration and empire, self and other, the real and the imaginary.  As we explore these questions and others, we will examine how modern writers revise, reinvent, and redefine a "classic.”  Texts will likely include Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and modern reinterpretations of Shakespeare and Defoe’s classic texts by the French Caribbean writer Aimé Césaire and South African writer J. M. Coetzee. We will supplement our reading with the study of films and television shows which also explore the course theme (episodes of Gilligan’s Island and The Simpsons).  Requirements include formal and informal writing assignments, group oral presentations and other collaborative work, quizzes, and active contribution to class discussion.