The Future of Literature?
Full course description
Nobody is able to predict the future of literature, any future for that matter. But it is possible to study new developments in literature that one would expect to be dealt with in future histories of literature. This course however is not about digital developments, like e-poetry, neither is the course about practices to which functions and experiences traditionally attributed to literature are being transferred. What we try to do in the course is to study the work of young writers that at first sight seem to engage in the sort of genres we easily associate with the received practices and institutions of literature, and these young writers not only address the major issues and concerns in our society – racial injustice, class and gender inequalities, climate change, the rights of migrants and refugees, discrimination of LGBTQ+ people, domestic violence, sexual abuse, political violence, etc. – these are in fact at the core of their work. A closer look will reveal that these young writers seem to break with the accepted boundaries between genres. To give one example: many of them challenge the binary between form and content, which too often has been broken down along racialized lines. The work of writers of colour usually are more appreciated for its political activism rather than for its experimentation with form. The work of Claudia Rankine however shows a subtle combination of poetry, essay, and visual art, approaching race through form. Rankine is an exponent of the hybrid genre of the lyric essay. Other genre developments the course will address are autofiction, spoken word, and relational theatre.
The course is geared towards the following objectives:
- To provide an overview of the most important functions accorded to modern literature
- To acquaint the students with relevant literary traditions and genres
- To trace closely connected new developments in contemporary literature
- To develop an individual case study on new developments.
Either as good preparation or follow up the following courses are related to the content we discuss: HUM2060 Poetry, Poetry Theory and Poetry Practices, HUM3036 Narrative Media and HUM3043 Acts of Literature – the Role of Prose, Poetry and Play in a Changing World.
reference list (MU library),