Research in Interdisciplinary Studies (Post-1800)

L758 — Spring 2020

Jennifer Fleissner
Days and Times
5:45p - 8:45p M
Course Description

TOPIC: The Everyday: Theoretical Configuration and American Literature

This class focuses on the turn toward the everyday in various genres of American writing from the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth century, alongside the work of theorists and critics for whom the quotidian is also a central category. We'll consider historical accounts of the rise of the everyday as a category produced by bourgeois modernity; the relation of it to “realism” as both a literary mode and a critical stance; the politicization and aestheticization of the everyday in recent critical formations such as affect theory and, before it, cultural studies; its significance to late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century philosophy (pragmatism, phenomenology, Wittgenstein, Heidegger) and to the beginnings of psychoanalysis; domesticity, detail, and the gender of the everyday; theorizations of repetition, habit, work, and boredom. 

In order to bring forward the stakes of these questions, we'll also look at some theoretical models and literary forms that are pointedly pitched against the notion of the everyday, including deep time and the longue durée; messianic time; and some forms of Romanticism. At the same time, however, we will also assume that “the everyday” is far from a unified category, and will pay close attention to distinctions among the ways it is conceived and mapped by different authors and movements, both literary and theoretical.

Authors read will likely be drawn from: on the literary side, Thoreau, Douglass, Howells, Dunbar, Freeman, Crane, James, Wharton, Williams, Hughes, Stein, and Brooks; on the critical and theoretical side, Hegel, Wittgenstein, William James, Weber, Arendt, Cavell, Woolf, Benjamin, Blanchot, Lefebvre, de Certeau, Jameson, Trilling, Amanda Anderson, Franco Moretti, Saidiya Hartman, Lloyd Pratt, Naomi Schor, Rita Felski, Lauren Berlant, Hortense Spillers, and Anne-Lise Francois.

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

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