ENG 100/125 - The Imaginary Primitive (Core/First-Year Seminar)Three or Four Credits
Our seminar will focus on how the modern idea of Western “civilization” took shape in response to the image of the non-European, “native.” Specifically, we will examine the “primitive” (and the related figures of the “cannibal,” the “savage,” and the “barbarian”) in British and French literature and visual art as the essential-if often invented-figure at the heart of modern concepts of empire, subjectivity, aesthetics, ethics, and culture. Although much of our work will concentrate on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, we will begin by examining several foundational early modern and Enlightenment-era texts to see how images of first contact between so-called “natives” and European explorers influenced more contemporary discourses of anthropology, biology, social science, psychoanalysis, and imperial politics. Readings will examine several key contact zones between European and non-European peoples: Africa, India, Oceania, and the Middle East. Our semester will end with a section devoted to contemporary responses to European constructions of racial ‘Otherness’ from the Sudan, France, and England. Authors to be covered include William Shakespeare, Michel de Montaigne, Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Rudyard Kipling, Paul Gauguin, Joseph Conrad, W. Somerset Maugham, E.M. Forster, George Orwell, Marjane Satrapi, Tayeb Salih, and Zadie Smith. We will also look at art by Gauguin, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Man Ray, and Pablo Picasso, among others, as well as films such as Cannibal Tours and Dirty, Pretty Things.
Prerequisite(s)/Restriction(s): ENG 125 is a First-Year Seminar and open to First-Year Students only.
General Education Attribute(s): ENG 100, for 3-credits, fulfills the Literature Cornerstone.
ENG 125, for 4-credits, fulfills the First-Year Seminar and Literature Cornerstone.