Reacting to the horrors of World War II and the period of decolonization, postmodernism has been questioning the humanistic assumptions of modernism while extending and sometimes transforming the earlier period’s avant-garde techniques through such currents as the new novel, absurdism, minimalism, magic realism, etc. Each offering of this course will study postmodern literature and culture from a specific perspective.
Summer 2012: Milich (2A)
Robbers, Pirates, and Terrorists: Forms of Individual Resistance in Literature and Film
Robin Hood, the archetypal, courteous and swashbuckling outlaw of the medieval era, has become an English folk hero. He robbed the rich to provide for the poor and fight against injustice and tyranny. From Robin Hood via actual and legendary robbers, pirates, and corsair in the 17th and 18th centuries, to present day pirates, terrorists and guerilla groups in Somalia, Latin America, Italy, Germany, and the U.S., individuals have always been involved in what they considered legitimate (though illegal) resistance against poverty, authority, patriarchy, feudalism, capitalism, and imperialism. Their rebellion (or criminal action?) evokes a question that has already been at the center of Aeschylus’ Orestes: what legitimizes individual justice versus socially controlled jurisdiction; what distinguishes vigilantism from politics, or antinomianism from legalism? Starting from the political and philosophical dichotomy between legitimacy and legality—what is ethically or religiously legitimate isn’t necessarily legal, and vice versa—this course will focus on representations of rebels and outlaws in different cultural contexts, historical periods, and cultural genres such as novels, movies, dramas, diaries, and operas. (LIT/W)
Last Updated: 6/27/12