AJL26272 Writing Coercive Confinement

Faculty of Arts
Spring 2020
Extent and Intensity
0/2/0. 6 credit(s). Recommended Type of Completion: zk (examination). Other types of completion: z (credit).
James Joseph Little, M.Phil., Ph.D. (lecturer)
Guaranteed by
doc. PhDr. Jana Chamonikolasová, Ph.D.
Department of English and American Studies - Faculty of Arts
Contact Person: Tomáš Hanzálek
Supplier department: Department of English and American Studies - Faculty of Arts
Wed 12:00–13:40 G32
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is also offered to the students of the fields other than those the course is directly associated with.
The capacity limit for the course is 10 student(s).
Current registration and enrolment status: enrolled: 6/10, only registered: 0/10, only registered with preference (fields directly associated with the programme): 0/10
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
Course objectives
This course sets out to analyse literary representations of institutions of confinement such as the prison, asylum and concentration camp in order to understand how these spaces have functioned as compositional material for writers. The course starts with two representations of the London asylum which gave us the word ‘bedlam’. Next, we will examine the writing of confinement in North America before reading two texts which attempt in different ways to represent and remember what has often been termed the ‘unrepresentable’ event of the Holocaust. Questions surrounding the ethics of translating an inmate’s experience into art will govern our analysis of the three texts in the final section of the course.
  • Week 1 Introducing confinement (please read the excerpt from Foucault’s Discipline and Punish in the IS before this class)

    Writing bedlam
    Week 2 Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton, The Honest Whore
    Week 3 Samuel Beckett, Murphy

    Bound in the USA
    Week 4 Mary Rowlandson, The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
    Week 5 Austin Reed, The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict
    Week 6 Emily Dickinson, selected poems:
    ‘A prison gets to be a friend’
    ‘Me from Myself—to banish—’
    ‘Doom is the House without the Door’
    ‘No Rack can torture me’

    Remembering the Holocaust
    Week 7 Elie Wiesel, Night
    Week 8 W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz

    Ethics and aesthetics
    Week 9 Brendan Behan, The Quare Fellow
    Week 10 J. M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
    Week 11 Emma Donoghue, Room
    Week 12 Final paper presentation and discussion
Teaching methods
Further reading Davies, Ioan, Writers in Prison (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990) Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. by Alan Sheridan (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979) ———, Madness and Civilization, trans. by Richard Howard (London: Routledge, 2001) McDonald, Peter, The Literature Police: Apartheid Censorship and Its Cultural Consequences (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) Porter, Roy, Madness: A Brief History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) Ricoeur, Paul, Memory, History, Forgetting, trans. by Kathleen Blamey and David Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006) Smith, Caleb, The Prison and the American Imagination (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009)
Assessment methods
Students will be assessed on an end-of-term essay of 3,000 words, written according to MLA style. Active participation in class discussion and the giving of a presentation is required in order to receive a credit for the course. Discussion questions will be sent out prior to class. Aside from week 1, each class will feature a short presentation (10–15 minutes) by members of the class.
Language of instruction
Further comments (probably available only in Czech)
Study Materials
Information on course enrolment limitations: Předmět si nemohou zapsat studenti Bc. studia AJ
Teacher's information
It is crucial that you bring the primary texts (in print or digital form) to class so we can discuss them each week.
The course is also listed under the following terms Spring 2021.
  • Enrolment Statistics (recent)
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