“The Cosmopolitan Imagination” (draft syllabus forthcoming)

Originating in the idea of the world citizen and conceived in contradistinction to nationalism, cosmopolitanism can be understood as a perspective that regards human difference as an opportunity to be embraced rather than a problem to be solved. Does this perspective lie behind all “great” literature, which asks its readers to experience otherness by opening themselves up to another person’s words and thoughts? This course uses novels, poems, plays, and films to explore the cosmopolitan impulses behind the literary imagination.

Core: Pathways of World Literature

Likely Texts:

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers.
Bender, Thomas. “New York as a Center of Difference.” In The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea.
Burton, The 1001 Nights (opening frame and one or two tales).
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness.
Doctorow, E. L. Ragtime.
Greenblatt, Stephen. “Culture.”
Hollinger, David. Post-Ethnic America.
Kushner, Tony. Angels in America.
Mouawad, Wajdi. Scorched.
Nussbaum, Martha C., et al. For Love of Country.
Salih, Tayib. Season of Migration to the North.
Scheffler, Samuel. “Conceptions of Cosmopolitanism.”
Shakespeare, Othello.
Sophocles. Oedipus Tyrannus. Trans. Peter Meineck and Paul Woodruff.
Tagore, Rabindranath. The Home and the World.
__________. Nationalism.
Williams, Raymond. Marxism and Literature (excerpts).

“Advanced Seminar: American Literature to 1855” (draft syllabus forthcoming)


American Literature I

This course was recorded during the Spring 2010 semester. Click here to join a study group for this course managed by OpenStudy.


Distinguished Teaching Award (2004)

Golden Dozen Award for Undergraduate Teaching (2003)

Golden Dozen Award for Undergraduate Teaching (1995)


American Literature I: From the Beginnings to the Civil War [PDF]

Conversations of the West [PDF]

Writing New York (team-taught with Prof. Bryan Waterman) [PDF]