ENGL144 - Breaking News: Contemporary Literature, Media and the State

Credit only granted for: ENGL144 or ENGL289X. Formerly: ENGL289X.

How specific moments of social upheaval are portrayed in media and transformed into art. Developing skills of reading, writing, and interpretation by learning how to "decode" fiction, t.v., news, and films. Exploration of viewpoints not represented in mainstream media. Question dominant discourses and examine how narratives are fabricated. What does it mean to be "subject" to the State, and how does art subvert it? Multimedia component deals with war, terrorism, environment, human rights, biomedical research, geopolitics.

This is not a journalism course. Instead, our objective is to “break” the news down into its narrative components, which means that we shall “decode” the myths upon which narratives (including news media stories), are built. We will examine the relationship between the individual and the State at specific moments of global upheaval, with emphasis on such timely topics as racial, religious and class divisions. Controversies surrounding sexuality and gender also figure prominently. Our texts portray State terror, environmental degradation, and permanent war. They also portray the consolations that only art can offer. We will ask: “What is the relationship between the individual and the State? Whatis America’s image in the eyes of the world – and how does it differ from Americans’self-image? How can you transform yourself from being a consumer to being acitizen – in your classroom and community? How does the study of fiction, film, poetry, drama, and other media illuminate the questions above? The course combines formal lectures with creative collaboration among students. Special highlights may include guest appearances by visiting writers; visiting a museum; or seeing a play that enhances our course’s inquiries. I urge you not to miss the first day of class, since the introductory lecture is vital to your understanding of the entire term's ideas and procedures.