"Can literature separate itself from politics without proving itself political? Can political discourse escape the overdetermination of the literary? Just what . . . is the politics of the literary and what does it have to do with the humanities and the power of corporations?"
"I would prefer not to."
-Bartleby, the scrivener
In this class, the second in our Study the Humanities series, we'll consider why we read fiction. What are the political implications of this ostensibly private act? How might our utopian desire to find meaning in fiction be manipulated, and how might we resist? In particular, we'll read a heavily politicized short story, Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street." We will also read Lee Edelman's nuanced critique of how "Bartleby" was used by, and against, the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and how that speaks to the existence of what he calls the "corporate humanities."
Texts (optional, but encouraged):
"Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street" Herman Melville
"Occupy Wall Street: 'Bartleby' Against the Humanities" Lee Edelman