English literature : Reading Roads in American Literary Texts

lgerm2724  2020-2021  Louvain-la-Neuve

English literature : Reading Roads in American Literary Texts
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information below is subject to change, in particular that concerning the teaching mode (presential, distance or in a comodal or hybrid format).
5 credits
30.0 h

  This biannual learning unit is not being organized in 2020-2021 !

An introductory knowledge of English literature and a good proficiency in English (advanced level, B2 + in terms of the Common European reference framework)
Main themes
The course traces the evolution of a particular theme in twentieth-century English literature. Through analyses of works taken from various historical and aesthetic contexts, students explore what kind of role the chosen theme(s) play in the modern imagination. The course also includes the showing and discussion of adaptations for film and television.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 - Students will be expected to show their ability to relate the themes that have been selected to the historical and literary contexts explored in the course.
- They will have to produce an analysis that demonstrates their familiarity with the issues raised in the course, and with the poetics through which those issues are articulated.
- The course is also indirectly meant to increase the students' lexical skills. Their analyses will therefore have to reflect a command of the English language that corresponds to their level (Masters), as well as a good grasp of the various cultural concepts discussed in the course.
In the American imagination, the road embodies ideals of freedom, and the fascination with adventure and survival. It is associated with Route 66, the conquest of the West, social rebellion, and the pursuit of the American Dream.
This course addresses the characteristics and development of the road trope via the analysis of several (excerpts from) novels (Salinger, Nabokov, Kerouac, among others), poems, songs and short stories (Langston Hughes) written by American/canadian creative writers.
What do protagonists ultimately discover at the end of the road or within the American wild landscape? How have contemporary fiction and film challenged the white male tradition of the road narrative? How have ethnic groups experienced the road? Can new forms of mobility forster friendship, healing and new gender identities?
This course focuses on the road narrative as a genre (mixing travelogue, journey, Bildungsroman, and picaresque literature) offering insights into the national, historical and cultural American identity, which relies on dislocation, discrimination, movement and landscape, and oscillates between the vision of a New Jerusalem and an apocalyptic struggle with natural powers. More specifically, the class starts with earlier road narratives and culminates with an examination of McCarthy's Pulitzer-prize winning novel The Road (2007) as an anti-road narrative in which the road has become haunted by traumatic and apocalyptic visions of the future. While it highlights the spatialization that characterizes the American imagination as well as the postmodern anxieties reflected in the road trope, the course stresses important changes, from road to anti-road narrative, from road to highway and street narrative between conquest and celebration of the wilderness. This class will explore how the novel as a genre can mediatize new forms of mobility/tourism, gender roles, and cultural belonging.
Teaching methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

Interactive lectures. This course includes references to several cinematic productions.
Evaluation methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

Students will prepare readings and write a final paper. Oral exam.
Teaching materials
  • syllabus disponible à la DUC
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Master [120] in Modern Languages and Literatures : German, Dutch and English

Master [120] in Modern Languages and Literatures : General

Certificat universitaire en littérature