Honors Seminars Spring 2019

Honors offerings for Spring 2019

ENGL402: Ecological Science Fiction (Dr. Amy Clukey)

Science fiction has long been concerned with climatological, geographic, biological, and ecological extremes, so it’s no surprise that it has taken up the environmental and social crises posed by climate change. In this course, we will examine science fiction literary and cinematic texts that explore the ethics of terraforming barren planets; traverse the existential horrors and frigid terrains of Earth’s polar regions; wade through expanding equatorial jungles; portray new contagions that decimate cities as much as bodies; imagine alien invasions of Earthly habitats and Earthling bodies; battle intelligent apes that can talk and make war; and envision human men who devolve into alligators or mutants or other “swamp things.”

The course will also draw on theoretical readings on related contemporary topics, such as the Anthropocene, climate change, petrochemical culture, mass extinction, human-alien-animal hybridity, non-human alterity, environmental racism, and ecofeminism. Potential readings include works by Donna Haraway, Octavia Butler, Margaret Atwood, Samuel Delany, J.G. Ballard, Kim Stanley Robinson, Jeff Vandermeer, H.G. Wells, among others.


ENGL402: Israeli & Palestinian Identities in Literature (Dr. Ranen Omer-Sherman)

This class draws on a range of exciting literary narratives and film documentaries to discuss the relationship between the Zionist dream of Homeland and the marginalized figure of the indigenous Arab, both as perceived external threat and as the “Other” within Israeli society. We will consider works written by Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel. The core question we will address concerns the writer’s empathic response to the plight of Palestinians and the Arab minority within Israel itself. Though all views will be respected, this course focuses on the artist’s response to Israeli politics and culture and considers issues such as human rights, Israel’s historical relations with its Arab neighbors, as well as its current struggle to accommodate a nascent Palestinian nation. Other issues to be examined will include: the influence of the literary imagination on both societies; the role of dissent and protest in society; the Jewish state’s ambivalence regarding Jews of Arab origin. We will see how the narrative forms of literature and cinema often challenge the rigid lines formed in ideological narratives to distinguish the “West” from the “East” and expose the contradictions in the dominant narrative. Many of the writers we address are among the most acclaimed voices in contemporary world literature. The instructor will also create opportunities for students to participate in a lively dialogue about current news headlines and important cultural and political trends in Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East, as they develop.

In addition to secondary historical readings our primary literary narratives and memoirs will likely include:

  • Suad Amiry, Sharon and My Mother-in-Law: Ramallah Diaries
  • Daniella Carmi, Samir & Yonatan
  • Noam Chayut, The Girl Who Stole My Holocaust: A Memoir
  • Ghassan Kanafani, Palestine’s Children: Returning to Haifa and Other Stories
  • Sayed Kashua, Let it Be Morning
  • Savyon Liebrecht, Apples From the Desert
  • Eshkol Nevo, Homesick
  • Yahya Yakhlif, A Lake Beyond the Wind
  • A.B. Yehoshua, The Lover
  • S. Yizhar, Khirbet Khizeh