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Forms of Literature: Prehistories of Colonialism

ENG 402/MED 401

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This course looks for the origins of the modern world - and the unrealized alternatives to its trauma and inequity - in medieval travelogues, histories, and poetic fictions. We will trace ideologies of race, religious difference, and colonialism as they emerged. At the same time, the works we will read belonged to a world radically different from the modernity to come: the medieval literary imagination can surprise with both its beauty and its sense of justice. Readings include work by Ibn Fadlan, Geoffrey Chaucer, and The Book of John Mandeville, as well as theory and criticism from Carolyn Dinshaw, Cedric Robinson, and Sylvia Wynter.
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Section S01