- Course Number: ENGL 122RS
Check on GOLD.
- Advisory Enrollment Information:
May be repeated for credit providing letter designations are different.
- Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 122AA-ZZ
- Quarter: Spring 2021
Through readings of novels, films, television series, and essays from the late-nineteenth century to the present, this course explores how British culture has portrayed the figures of the rogue and the scoundrel. Karl Marx and Friedrich will be recruited from the start, for in their writings a distinctly scoundrelly personage emerges: the lumpenproletarian. The lumpenproletariat is one of the most infamous terms in Marxist thought. It stems from the German word “lump,” which denotes scab, rag, canker, sore, and scoundrel, and connotes a series of “undesirables” – the unemployed, the sex worker, the homeless, the addict, the petty criminal, the single mother, and the queer cruiser. For Marx and Engels, the lumpen functions as an abject remainder of proletarian subjectivity, a disorderly rabble opposed to the politically-committed proletariat.
The course then moves through a series of urban sightings of the scoundrel and the rogue – from George Orwell’s portrayal of the Paris slums in Down and Out in Paris and London, through little known socialist-feminist novelist Margaret Harkness’s depiction of late nineteenth-century London, and on to Christopher Isherwood’s Weimar Berlin. We will also explore the lesbian-feminist rogue as seen in Valerie Solanas’s 1969 polemic, The SCUM Manifesto (SCUM stands for the “society for cutting up men” and is a key term which is used to translate Marx and Engels’s “lumpenproletariat”). Finally, we will examine how Black feminists have resisted the stigmatic terms in which their lives have been viewed by dominant racist paradigms. In all these readings, we will delve deeper in the tropology of the rogue in order to unearth previously underexplored political formations, forms of life, and, ultimately, sites of abjection and resistance.