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Special Topics in the Humanities (370-6-24)


Shame! Histories/Cultures of an Emotion.


Anna Maree Parkinson
1880 Campus Drive, Kresge Hall, Rm 3321, Evanston
Office Hours: By appointment

Meeting Info

University Library 3370: Mon, Wed 2:00PM - 3:20PM

Overview of class

Shame! Histories and Culture of an Emotion

Emotions are integral to our lives and influence how we navigate the social worlds we inhabit. This course explores an emotion that is notoriously difficult to characterize-shame-as it manifests itself in literary and visual media in history and contemporary culture. During the quarter, we will explore the concept of shame in contexts ranging from sexuality studies (transsexuality, #MeToo), to Black feminist theory (white supremacy), post/neo-colonial discourses (Truth and Reconciliation Committee in South Africa), Holocaust and postcolonial studies (survivor guilt), and inequity (poverty and class struggle). We will discuss a variety of materials, selected from a variety of literary texts (J.M. Coetzee, Franz Kafka, Nella Larsen, Primo Levi, Thomas Mann), essays (phenomenology, philosophy, psychoanalysis, cultural studies), film (Boys Don't Cry, reality T.V.), and excerpts from political commisions (TRC in South Africa). Topics for discussion may include: How do we "read for" emotion/render emotion legible? What role do identity and identification (gender, race, class, religion, and sexuality) play in shame? Does shame differ from guilt (and why should this matter)? Can shame be political and a social force? Does shame have a history? Is shame a social or a private emotion; a bodily or a psychic reaction? We will pose these and other questions and search for answers to them during the course of the quarter.

Class Attributes

Literature & Fine Arts Distro Area