Upper-Division Seminar: Cannibalism in American Literary Culture

Course Number: ENGL 197
Prerequisites: Upper-division standing, English majors only
Advisory Enrollment Information: This course cannot be repeated and is limited to upper-division English majors only.
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 197
Quarter: Spring 2011
Instructor: Blurton, Heather
Day(s): R
Time: 5:00 PM - 7:50 PM
Location: SH 2617
Description:

This course cannot be repeated and is limited to upper-division English majors only.
“Cannibalism is always symbolic, even when it is real” (Sahlins, “Cannibals and Kings,” 1960)

This course will consider the efflorescence of cannibal-themed novels in the 1980s in the context of theorizations of literary cannibalism, as well as anthropological approaches, and the American literary tradition of representing cannibalism. We will focus on the way in which the cannibal trope remains continually and uniquely useful to American writers. For example: cannibalism is used from the earliest periods (Columbus) through the 19th century to theorize empire and conquest (Typee); in the 1950s to theorize ‘deviant sexuality’ (Suddenly Last Summer, Love Among the Cannibals); in the 1980s to theorize excessive consumption of corporate culture; in the new millennium to frame apocalyptic fears. The core readings are a series of novels from the 1980s, which transform earlier instantiations of the trope of cannibalism into vigorous modes of cultural critique.