Course Description

"Courses focus on specific themes or topics, such as literature of the city, artists in literature, or coming of age. All topics include literature in at least three genres (selected from poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and drama). May be repeated for credit if topics differ."

Summer 2023 Topics:

Section 010: Banned Books

This course examines the politics of literature banned across several centuries and continents. Texts have been classified as taboo, seized, and burned and their creators fined, jailed, tortured, and killed throughout history under many different political regimes. Incorporating a range of systems of censorship in Europe, the US, Japan, and China, we will examine differences in the modes of repression and the sometimes surprising connections between church and monarchy, fascism and democracy. Authors may include: Kurt Vonnegut, William Burroughs, Salman Rushdie, Ray Bradbury, Maia Kobabe, Jazz Jennings, Ashley Hope Pérez, Wei Hui, Shirley Jackson, Noam Chomsky, Ibram X. Kendi.

Section 011: Beat Generation

In the 1950s U.S., a roster of bohemian writers rose from the urban underground to posit a new style of writing—and a new way of living. Not only Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs, but Bob Kaufman, Shirley Clarke, Diane di Prima and others borrowed from the transcendence of Eastern spirituality, the rhythms of jazz and bebop, and the mobility of a growing American middle class. Read through a contemporary lens, however, many Beat writings betray problematic biases, especially for women and people of color. What does it mean when the progressive vanguard of the past fails to agree with present-day sensibilities? How do we allow these authors a generous reading while recognizing their shortcomings? And in what ways do twenty-first century publishing and film industries paper over the problematics of Beat literature in order to glamorize and profit from these eloquent iconoclasts? This class will address these difficult questions while building a foundation in this influential subgenre.


This course is available for undergraduate credit. Students must possess a high school diploma and must be an adult age 18 or older to participate.

Students should have prior experience taking at least one Undergraduate level Literature course.

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