HUMS 136, Writing the Gift: Creativity and Exchange in Literature and Theory

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:35-12:50

Course Description:

This course explores the literary imagination of “the gift” in a variety of contexts. Reading fiction by Toni Cade Bambara, Ursula Le Guin and James Joyce, and non-fiction by Lewis Hyde, Georges Bataille and WEB Du Bois, we seek to answer questions such as: What distinguishes a transaction from an exchange of gifts? Why do ideas of generosity and reciprocity persist in a society defined by contracts and debts? Combining literary study and instruction in writing, this seminar is designed to help students develop analytical skills across different disciplines.

Led by:

Lukas Moe's picture

Professor Lukas Moe

I’m interested, broadly, in the question of how literature works formally and historically in modern social imaginaries and sensoriums. I’m especially interested in the history of media as they shape and interrupt each other on the way to building the life-world of experiences and beliefs we come to call meaningful. Guided by research interests in the history of 20th century American class and racial formation, I investigate the normative claims that art makes on us, even so as to transform the language of our self-description and -relation to others. I study the theory and practice of 20th-century Anglophone poetry; African-American experimental poets; the cultural history of modernism; the overlap of American radicalism and pragmatism. I’m at work on developing for publication my dissertation, a study of US poetry in the aftermath of the American Left.