HUMS 237, Modernities - Past and present in fiction since 1789

Meeting Time: 
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

Course Description:

Drawing on English-language literature, art, and history-writing since 1800, this class explores how the past can illuminate and complicate the ways we perceive the present. We will begin with the geopolitical and social revolutions of the 1800s, and end with the memoir-as-history of Hazel Carby’s Imperial Intimacies (2019). Along the way, we will explore a variety of approaches to making the past come alive in the present; through the “what if” posed by alternate history speculations, through didactic history in fact and fiction imagined for children, the use of the past as a site of romance, and through visual media like paintings and cinema. Throughout the course, we will address questions like: how does fiction work to interpret the past? How does our interpretation of the past reflect and help us process present day concerns? Is the past best imagined as a foreign country full of exotic difference to the present, as a mirror to ourselves?

Led By:

Katja Lindskog's picture

Professor Katja Lindskog

I hold a joint appointment in the Department of English and the Humanities Program. My current research focuses on the ways in which we can contextualize British nineteenth-century literature within the onset of the Anthropocene era and the present-day climate crisis, particularly through our past and present relationship to fossil capital in its many forms. Broadly speaking, I am hoping to expand the parameters for what constitutes useful ecocriticism in the study of Victorian literature and culture.

My essays have appeared in Victorian Poetry and Scandinavian StudiesI am currently working on an essay about Charles Dickens’ novel Hard Times, as well as drafting a book manuscript about ecocriticism provisionally titled That Future Is Now: Ecocriticism in the Age of Climate Change.

Before joining the English Department at Yale, I was a Core Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University. Since arriving at Yale in 2015, I have taught courses on literature, climate change, cultural and intellectual history, and often I have designed and taught courses on all these together. From Fall 2019, I will serve as Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Directed Studies Program at Yale.