What do Neal Stephenson’s The Big U, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, The Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and Nadine Gordimer’s story “Jump” all have in common? These works use language not only to describe systemic fissures and contradictions within political and social institutions ; they also use language to act upon these very institutions and upon the behaviour and perspectives of their readers and/or listeners.
In this course, students will delve into the fictional worlds depicted in stories, novels, poetry and music from across the English-speaking world – including but not exclusively South Africa, the United States and the Caribbean – whilst examining their historical and cultural underpinnings. At the same time, we will reflect upon the way the linguistic devices and formal choices of these writers have affected, and continue to affect, generations of readers and potential political agents.
The course's main aims are
- to broaden understanding of literary responses to historical and political events within the English-speaking world
- to heighten an awareness of English linguistic structures and literary devices, the ideas they connote and the behaviour they promote
- to enrichen vocabulary and grammatical comprehension through reading and creative and analytical writing.