Friday, October 12, 2012

Environ, Body, Object, Veer

by J J Cohen

[Read KARL first. And go to his talk if you are in NYC!]

I mapped my cartographic description using Voyant
After eighteen months of not teaching, I return to the classroom in January. And I'm really looking forward to it. My description of my graduate seminar is due, as is my book order ... so I thought I'd share the little blurb I cobbled together with you. It's so crammed with primary and secondary texts that I know I will need to scale back rather than add, but of course I'll compile a bibliography for further reading. So, what would you have added?

English 6220 (Topics/Medvl&EarlyMod Studies)
Environ, Body, Object, Veer

This cartographic seminar follows the lines of possibility that might be generated when the words environ, body, object and veer are simultaneously nouns (surroundings; corpus; impedimental thing [from the Latin “to throw in the way of”]; abrupt directional shift or change of vector) and verbs (to circuit inward; to materialize an abstraction; to protest or differ; to fly off course). Some of the problems we will unpack through these four keywords include: what does it mean to possess life? What worlds commence in medieval texts when the nonhuman exerts its sidelong agency? Is anthropocentricity an inevitable circumscription to thought? How does travel (in space, in time, in scale) open vistas that might otherwise remain unperceived? Are medieval and contemporary one or several temporalities?

We will create a confluence of contemporary theory (disability studies; queer theory; the new materialism; object oriented ontology; ecocriticism) and medieval English, Latin and French texts to map (environ, body, object and veer) possibilities for both. Among the medieval texts we will read: Beowulf, Chaucer (The House of Fame, General Prologue, The Pardoner’s Tale, The Franklin’s Tale, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, The Squire’s Tale); Geoffrey of Monmouth (History of the Kings of Britain), The Book of John Mandeville, Song of Roland, Saint Erkenwald, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl. Among the works of contemporary theory we may discuss (in entirety or selections): Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology; Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow, eds. Sex and Disability; Margrit Shildrick, Dangerous Discourses of Disability, Subjectivity and Sexuality; Mel Y. Chen, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering and Queer Affect; Carolyn Dinshaw, How Soon Is Now?: Medieval Texts, Amateur Readers, and the Queerness of Time; Tim Ingold, Being Alive; Will Stockton, Playing Dirty; Stacy Alaimo, Bodily Natures.


Jeffrey Cohen said...

And as I added on Facebook: Among the writers who helped me frame this collaboratory but didn't make it to the course syllabus: Nicholas Royle; Michel Serres; Tim Ingold's work on lines; Helene Cixous; Bruno Latour; Michael O'Rourke. Conversations with Lowell Duckert on two of the terms also really helped the framing.

Anonymous said...

"In what direction did lost men veer? Perhaps it changed with hemispheres. Or handedness. Finally he put it out of his mind. The notion that there could be anything to correct for. His mind was betraying him. Phantoms not heard from in a thousand years rousing slowly from their sleep. Correct for that." (The Road, Cormac McCarthy)