Course Instructor Days Times Room
ENGL4860 PAVLIC, EDWARD T R 12:30 PM 0250


ENGL 4860: ‘WHO CAN AFFORD TO IMPROVISE?’ : Emergent, Human Geographies in the Transnational Literary Imagination
This course will chart structures of feeling and being in the work of three crucial 20th – 21st century writers: James Baldwin, Adrienne Rich, and Michael Ondaatje. Emphasizing questions of race, location, sexuality, and gender, we’ll explore the human designs uncovered by these writers whose work coincided and, at times, intersected. An African American writer, James Baldwin (1924 – 1987) published over 20 books across all the genres while living on three continents. Explicitly engaged with the politics of race and sexual freedom, his work established a complexly challenging basis for a re-imagining of human struggle and possibility. Adrienne Rich (1929 – 2012) published nearly two-dozen books over her 60-year career as a poet and essayist. An American poet most noted for her work with issues of gender and sexual liberation, Rich’s work also explicitly engaged racial and political movements and formations within and beyond the United States. Born in Sri Lanka (at the time it was Ceylon) and raised in London, Michael Ondaatje (1946 – present!) began writing while living in Ontario, where he’s lived at least part-time ever since.  Over nearly twenty books, located in ways that moves across five continents, his work morphs from photographic – lyric poems to distinctly filmic novels and hybrid, fiction – non-fiction books. In addition to the literary work, we’ll also emphasize each writer’s interest in photography, film and music as the basis for re-imagining what the literary imagination can accomplish.

Our class will read selected books from the different eras (50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s), moving between major works of each author published in coincident historical moments. The result will be a cross-genre, trans- & inter-continental “map” of what human experience entails, what we bear, and what it’s all about.


There will be three papers in this class. There will also likely be class presentations.


Attendence/participation. Books. Paper's turned in on time.