Have You Eaten? Cannibalism in Literature and Film
Course Reader; films TBA
Reading and Composition courses serve as introductions to literary analysis and as guides to the composition of well-argued essays. This will be accomplished by class discussion, by breaking down essay-writing into manageable components, and by extensive rewriting. With these practical goals in mind, we will examine representations of cannibalism in texts from a wide variety of genres, from Greek mythology to comic books, from fairy tales to cartoons. Exploring different genres and forms will allow us to interrogate the wide-ranging social, historical, and political circumstances of these representations, while at the same time offering us the opportunity to develop a diverse set of tools for analyzing cultural texts, from the visual to the cinematic to the literary.
Among other topics, we will seek to understand why such a gory phenomenon is so frequently paired with comedy, while also considering how it figures in tragedy or dramatic revenge narratives. Still focusing on genre, we will interrogate how representations of cannibalism shift or overlap between genres such as satire, fairy tales, science fiction, horror, and crime fiction. In our efforts to understand how visual representations of cannibalism differ from or complement narrative and literary ones, we will juxtapose competing versions of the same trope or story; for instance, comparing the story of Hansel and Gretel in European folklore to contemporary renderings of the same story in cartoons and films.
Beyond these formal inquiries, we will also explore how representations of cannibalism are deployed to either enforce or question societal norms. For instance, we will examine how cannibalism features in the confrontation between self and other, particularly in the context of encounters between European and Native American populations in the New World. More broadly, we will explore how cannibalism is figured in religious and secular contexts, as well as in articulations of race, class, gender, and sexuality.
Additional information: This course fulfills the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement in the College of Letters and Science. Class conducted in ENGLISH.