We recently asked each of our English Department faculty members to share one work from a course that they are currently teaching and are particularly excited to share! Here are their responses.
Professor Doug Anderson
EN 334 001 Refugee Crisis in World Literature
One of the works I am most excited about this semester is Chris Cleave’s moving and beautifully written novel Little Bee. It’s the story of a sixteen-year-old Nigerian “refugee girl” who escapes the violence in her home country and makes her way to London, where she is immediately arrested, held in an immigrant detention center and threatened with deportation. Released due to a computer error and on the run, the heroine seeks help from a young, newly widowed mother who edits an upscale women’s magazine. At the heart of the novel is the evolving relationship of these characters, two women who despite coming from very different worlds, forge a powerful bond of friendship.
Dr. Tara Harney-Mahajan
EN 332 001 Modern Irish Drama
One of the plays I am teaching this semester in my Modern Irish Drama class is Asking For It by Louise O’Neill. O’Neill wrote the novel in 2015, but it was adapted for the stage by playwright Meadhbh McHugh in 2018. I am really excited about this play because I saw it staged in Cork last summer, and it was just devastating in all sorts of really important and thought-provoking ways–most notably in its representation of young Irish women and rape culture. In addition, Meadhbh is coming to talk to my class in early May, and I think it will be a wonderful opportunity to wrap-up the class and reflect not only on the past and present of Irish drama, but also its future.
Dr. Katie Kornacki
HP 332 The Family in U.S. Literature
I am enjoying teaching Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women in my The Family in U.S. Literature course, an Honors Seminar. Like many American women, I grew up reading Little Women (for a while, I remember reading it at least once a year!) and identified most with the character of Jo, the outspoken, “tomboyish” aspiring writer. This is the first novel we are reading this semester, and already my students are engaging in some very lively discussions about the relationship between Little Women and dominant 19th-century American gender ideologies. Like many critics, students have made persuasive cases for reading the novel as upholding separate spheres ideology and reinforcing the Cult of True Womanhood, while at the same time allowing for more subversive readings in which Alcott seems to be challenging popular notions about womanhood and femininity.