Senior Seminar in Contemporary Literature

Senior Seminar in Contemporary Literature

Terms: 2 (fall and winter)
Grades: 12, PG (Required for all 12th Grade and PG students)

Students choose one of the following:

The Question of These Wars

This course will explore literature examining militarism, violence, and the power of the state. In reading Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer and Shakespeare's Hamlet, we will analyze the social, cultural, artistic, and historical consequences of warfare and state-sanctioned violence, and the ways in which societies remember and forget their pasts. We will also engage in close readings of current events and political issues of the present day, using the major works of literature as both contextual and philosophical points of comparison. 

Topics of discussion will include: Violence; Politics; History and Memory; Colonialism; Racism; Economics; Asian American Identity; Misogyny; Love; Humor; Philosophy; and Immigration.

Reckless Libertines

This course will explore how literature helps us better understand identity’s influence on romantic and intimate relationships. During fall term, the course will roughly follow three units: the first will examine childhood (i.e. how one first receives and perceives messages about relationships and identity); the second will examine adolescence (e.g. first “serious” relationships, and how relationships function in new environments like college or being a young adult); the third will examine adulthood (e.g. how marriage, family and aging might impact relationships). In the fall term we will mainly read short stories from The Best American series and various magazines and anthologies. These stories will range in perspective, time period and style, and feature mature content and themes. In the winter, we will examine how film can embody similar ideas through a mini-film-unit, and also apply this relationship-focused lens to a more canonical work in Hamlet while we work on the Senior Thesis.

The Undiscovered Country

This course will explore critically acclaimed contemporary novels, and in doing so, seek to understand how people on the margins define and determine dominant culture.  Discussion topics will include: issues of race and gender; questions of historical memory; the political implications of fictional storytelling; and the ways in which both contemporary authors from marginalized communities define what it means to belong.