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ENGLISH 137C: Time Travel in the Americas (HUMCORE 137)

Historical fiction refracts our view of the present and our hopes for the future through the prism of the past. This course explores twentieth and twenty-first century writing from the Americas that reflects back on the relationship between American identity, modernity, and colonial power. At the heart of all of these accounts is a reckoning with the nature of recorded history: who has had the power to speak for themselves, who has been represented by others, and who has been left out? For some writers, this entails the re-embodiment of real historical figures, whether Toussaint Louverture in CLR James's The Black Jacobins, Johann Moritz Rugendas in César Aira's An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, or Estebánico in Laila Lalami's The Moor's Account. For others, it means the manufacture of plausible historical analogues, like Amabelle Désir in Edwidge Danticat's The Farming of Bones and Antoinette Rochester in Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. And for some, like Rita Indiana in T more »
Historical fiction refracts our view of the present and our hopes for the future through the prism of the past. This course explores twentieth and twenty-first century writing from the Americas that reflects back on the relationship between American identity, modernity, and colonial power. At the heart of all of these accounts is a reckoning with the nature of recorded history: who has had the power to speak for themselves, who has been represented by others, and who has been left out? For some writers, this entails the re-embodiment of real historical figures, whether Toussaint Louverture in CLR James's The Black Jacobins, Johann Moritz Rugendas in César Aira's An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, or Estebánico in Laila Lalami's The Moor's Account. For others, it means the manufacture of plausible historical analogues, like Amabelle Désir in Edwidge Danticat's The Farming of Bones and Antoinette Rochester in Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. And for some, like Rita Indiana in Tentacle and Carmen Boullosa in Heavens on Earth, it means reversing the gaze, using the distant past to speculate about the possibilities of a distant future. This course is part of the Humanities Core, a collaborative set of global humanities seminars that brings all of its students and faculty into conversation. On Mondays you meet in your own course, and on Wednesdays all the HumCore seminars (in session that quarter) meet together: https://humanitiescore.stanford.edu/.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3-5
Instructors: Kantor, R. (PI)
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