- Course Number: ENGL 10
- Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 10
- Quarter: Summer B 2015
What does literature contribute to society? There are many answers to this question (engagement with the complexities and perspectives of other minds, empathy, critical self-reflection, critique of injustice), but the one that this class will centrally focus upon is the enterprise of producing imaginative new possibilities and pathways. This is the great literary tradition of speculation. How, this literature asks, could our world be ordered differently? What potentials have we failed to actualize? How could things be better (or worse)? How, in short, does literature chart new, alternative futures for our culture? We will read a number of works that produce speculative pasts, presents, and futures, including Shakespeare’s speculative magic and its abnegation, Walt Whitman’s evocation of a new America reimagined through poetry, Lewis Carroll’s speculative fantasy of trans-species, trans-scalar being, H. G. Wells’ masterpiece of future history that imagines what would happen if scientists ruled the world, Ursula LeGuin’s speculative forest planet, Jeannette Winterson’s reimagining of a world of scrambled genders and temporalities, and Gerald Vizenor’s speculative claiming of Christopher Columbus as the rallying point for a future Native American genomic utopia. All of these works dare to reimagine the world. We will approach literary study itself as a speculative attempt to engage, critique, and integrate these potentials within our own world and lives.