2020-21 Pomona College Catalog 
    
    Nov 30, 2022  
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ENGL142 PO - How to Live Together: Literature and the Commons

When Offered: Spring 2019.
Instructor(s): K. Wittman
Credit: 1

How to Live Together: Literature and the Commons December 1976, philosopher and literary critic Roland Barthes watches a mother pulling her young child, who cannot keep up, along a walkway. He is struck by the scene; he makes a note of it: “she walks at her own pace, unaware of the fact that her son’s rhythm is different.” A year later, the scene inspires the first of his final lecture courses, which he called “How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces.” At the heart of the course was Barthes’ concept of idiorrhythmy, a monastic term, the idea of “individual rhythms” that exist-nonetheless-in and with a sense of community. To explore this idea, he turned to literature. This course will do that also. We will take up Barthes’ notion of idiorrhythmy and expand it into broader interdisciplinary theories of the commons: “spaces, experiences, resources, memories, or forms of sharing and living.” How does literature, we will ask, offer us ways to think about common spaces and experiences, about individual rhythms and efforts (and their failure) to bring those rhythms into community? Literature is also a commons: we’ll consider literary form, aesthetics, and poetics even as we look to literary representation, to “content.” Our literary focus will be literature in Britain from roughly 1700-1900, the period in which the Enclosure Acts took enormous common swaths of land and privatized them, the period in which rampant colonial ambitions, rising industrial capitalism, and rapid urbanization altered permanently the global landscape of common spaces and resources. Our theoretical reading, however, will range far more broadly: work on the commons moves across economics, politics, ecology and biology, aesthetics, philosophy, sociology, and, of course, literary and cultural theory. Literary authors may include: Daniel Defoe, Oliver Goldsmith, Mary Shelley, Margaret Cavendish, Olaudah Equiano, Christina Rossetti, Mary Wollstonecraft, Percy Shelley, William Wordsworth, Charlotte Smith, John Ruskin, E.M.
Satisfies the following General Education Requirement(s), subject to conditions explained in the Degree Requirements section of this Catalog:
Area 1; Writing Intensive



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