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Sub-group A:
The Language of Subcultures: Researching Subgroup Jargons (Professor Christopher Hutton)

(Tuesday, 10:30 - 12:20)

The term jargon has a number of meanings but the focus of this course is on subgroup or subcultural varieties, that is, special languages or vocabulary sets which mark out or identify a group. These jargons may be technical, as in the expert terminology used in particular trades or professions (lawyers, engineers, doctors), or informal, for example the poetic, mythic or slang-like jargon used by taxi-drivers, police officers, prisoners, actors, gamblers, hospital workers, restaurant staff, and so on. This course combines viewpoints from sociolinguistics, social history, and ethnography.

 

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Sub-group B:
Literature and Democracy (Dr Jessica Valdez)

(Tuesday, 10:30 - 12:20)

What is democracy? What is the relationship between democracy, literature, and the arts? What role do literature and the arts play in the world of politics, and how do they contribute to political reform and activism? Scholars and public intellectuals have sought to re-examine the relationship between the arts and democracy. Martha Nussbaum and Edward Said, among others, argue that the arts and the humanities are essential to a thriving democracy; for Nussbaum, literature enables individuals to feel sympathy for others, while for Said, literature fosters disagreement, critique, and opposition. Moreover, we will consider what makes a literary work democratic, and whether some aesthetic forms are more democratic than others. Pierre Rosanvallon, for instance, argues on behalf of “narrative democracy,” and Isobel Armstrong identifies a “democratic imagination” in the Victorian novel. We might also discuss the role of literature and the arts in Hong Kong, including PEN Hong Kong and the arts of the Umbrella Movement.

Students will select much of the reading material with guidance from the lecturer. Readings might include a mixture of fiction, poetry, literary criticism, political theory, and/or history. Students will be able to choose from a range of authors, including, but not limited to, Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Herman Melville, John Stuart Mill, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Walt Whitman. Other options might include excerpts from Isobel Armstrong, Novel Politics; Thomas Docherty, Aesthetic Democracy; Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude; Caroline Levine, Provoking Democracy: Why We Need the Arts; and Rachel Potter, Modernism and Democracy, among others.

 

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Sub-group C:
Life Writing and Creative Writing (Professor Page Richards)

(Wednesday, 14:30 - 16:20)

The act of identifying and “telling lives,” as the writer Caryl Phillips notes, sheds light on the histories and lives otherwise invisible. The field of Life Writing touches locally and internationally upon interdisciplinary fields and sub-fields: for instance, comparative literature, creative writing, social sciences, anthropology, psychology, history, film-making, photography, documentary, and more. This senior colloquium will feature critical, creative, and interdisciplinary work in an exciting and relatively new field.

Cultural negotiations, interpretations, and indeterminacies make the sites of telling a life -- whether in biography, memoir, and life writing, more widely -- continually seductive and unstable. 

We ask, what are the prevailing assumptions of “possible lives” that a local culture asks us to tell? What are the discourses and limitations, at any given moment, for telling the history, story, poem, or artwork of a “life”? As Jerome Bruner queries, when do we “become the narratives by which we ‘tell about’ our lives”? 

Students will work individually and together in the Black Box studio. We will first learn more about the field of life writing through primary texts and the critical readings and writings. We will then explore and open contested sites of “telling” lives. Each student will draw from their entire body of coursework and studies, integrate and deepen their own specializations, and bring to life-writing an individual project and design. Students will also collaborate to bring to life a new and collective original project of Life Writing by the end of the course. 

No previous courses in Life Writing or Creative Writing is required.

 

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Last updated: 11 April 2019