Course Description - NJIT: Course Schedule


HSS403(H01) Honors Literature Seminar in Humanities:

Art and Politics

Summer 2012

Cullimore 111

MWR 6-9

Jon Curley

Telephone: (973) 596-3258

Email: seancurl @

Office hours: by appointment Rm. 409 Cullimore

Course Description

This class is will focus on twentieth century political fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in their various historical and social contexts. We will explore the motivations for political art and the ethical dilemmas surrounding propaganda, partisanship, and commitment to political causes, positions, and themes. By exploring various world literatures during a turbulent century, we shall examine the function of art in a time of violence and how writers represent and respond to specific historical struggles and events.


You are expected to keep up with the reading in the texts and complete all assigned exercises. Classroom participation is essential. I will ask that you bring responses to particular texts under discussion each week and compile a weekly writing journal based on your writing experience, classroom reactions, and any other thoughts related to literature and politics.


Two Essays 40%

Oral Presentation 10%

Final Examination 25%

Weekly writings & 15%

Oral Presentation

Class Participation 10%

Required Reading

Roberto Bolaño. Distant Star

Carolyn Forché, ed. Against Forgetting: 20 th

Century Poetry of Witness

David Levi-Strauss. Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics

George Orwell. Homage to Catalonia

Niccolo Sacco & Bartolomeo Vanzetti. The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti

Victor Serge. Unforgiving Years

Course Outline

Week 1 May 21, 23, 24


“Where are We” (J. Berger, Introduction to

Between the Eyes );

“Photography & Propaganda”; “Photography & Belief”; “A Sea of

Grief is not a Proscenium”; “Where the Camera Cannot Go”; “Can You

Hear Me?”; “The Highest Degree of Illusion”;“Epiphany of the Other”;

“The Documentary Debate: Aesthetic or Anaesthetic” (

Between the Eyes )

Week 2

The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti

May 28, 30, 31

The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti

Poems from The Spanish Civil War (in Against Forgetting );

Homage to Catalonia

Week 3 June 4, 6, 7

Unforgiving Years

Poems in section “Revolution and Repression in the Soviet

Union” of Against Forgetting : A. Ahkmatova, V. Serge. O. Mandelstam,

M. Tsvetayeva

Essay #1 Due

Week 4 June 11, 13, 14

World War II poems: M. Jacob, P. Eluard, B. Brecht ( Against Forgetting

The Holocaust, The Shoah Poems ( Against Forgetting )


Week 5 June 18, 20, 21

Catch-Up/Finish Up!

Distant Star

Week 6 June 25

Final Examination

Essay #2 Due

Course Conclusions and Beginnings