courses > 2013 fall

Elective Courses

ENGL 263 - The Stranger in 20th-Century Literature and Film

301 | TR 12-1:30pm | FBH 141

In the twentieth century, who can be defined as a stranger and from where do they come? This course will explore the stranger and the theme of estrangement in 20th century literature, art and film. We will explore works in which the stranger appears as a friend or a foe, and study how individuals and communities have remained open to the strangeness not just of the “other” but also of the “self.” This course will also explore post-colonial concerns about the desire to “touch” the other, and the impossibility of ever doing so. Throughout the course we will reflect on estrangement as a fact of biography and a way of life, and learn how the figure of the stranger can ultimately alter our subjectivity. Each seminar will be structured around a major literary theme, including exile, migration, foreignness, identity, and loss. Authors we will read include Albert Camus, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Franz Kafka, Maurice Blanchot, Ralph Ellison, Zadie Smith, and Georg Simmel. We will watch films by Orson Welles, Agnes Varda, Werner Herzog, David Lynch, Lars von Triers, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Michael Haneke, among others. We will study the artworks of Carolee Schneemann, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Knut Asdam, and others, through class visits to cultural institutions in Philadelphia such as the Mutter Museum at The College of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Slought Foundation. A weekly writing assignment and a final paper will be required.