Entering the Field: Social Justice in Contemporary Literature and Arts
Full course description
In this course, we study works of contemporary literature and art through the topical lens of social justice and through the critical lens of key theoretical texts from relevant fields, such as postcolonial studies, gender and sexuality studies, environmental and health humanities, and critical age and disability studies. We establish how and to what effect contemporary literature and arts are intimately connected with issues of social justice. These include racial injustice, class and gender inequalities, environmental justice, the rights of migrants and refugees, the stigmatisation of LGBTQ+ people, ageism and ableism. We explore the relationship between 21st-century literature and arts on the one hand and contemporary issues of social justice on the other by studying influential works from literature, the visual arts, performing arts, and film. We then study key texts from critical and cultural theory that help us develop a deeper understanding of these works in the context of social justice. We also explore how contemporary literature and arts not only reflect on and/or represent issues of social justice, but also how they can actively intervene in the spheres of politics and society at large.
Upon completion of this course, students are able to:
understand the relation between contemporary theories and social justice issues;
apply key theories from relevant academic fields and disciplines to selected works of contemporary art and literature;
identify and take part in topical academic and societal debates on how contemporary art and literature engage with issues of social justice
develop an informed and critical perspective on contemporary art and literature with a focus on social justice;
translate their informed understanding into a presentation and a library research paper on the topic.
Refugee Tales, Volume 1, edited by David Herd & Anna Pincus
Bernardine Evaristo’s novel Girl, Woman, Other (2019)
Dana Walrath’s graphic memoir Aliceheimer’s
Jeremy Butterworth’s play Jerusalem