Current Teaching

  • 20182017

    Imagining Climate Change (COM LIT M294 / ENGL M270; UCLA)

    Climate change, arguably the defining issue of our time, is usually treated as a strictly scientific, economic, or technological problem. However, it also raises profound questions of meaning, value, and justice, as it challenges taken-for-granted ways of viewing and inhabiting the world. The early twenty-first century has witnessed the emergence of a wave of literary texts and other cultural artifacts that adapt or reinvent conventional modes of representation in an attempt to capture and convey the nature and meaning of climate change and the urgency required to tackle it. This graduate course explores how contemporary literature and culture more generally are grappling with the problems posed by a warming planet. It pays particular attention to the formal innovations demanded by climate change, a phenomenon whose sheer magnitude and complexity defy familiar forms of narrative, and to the ways in which creative writers and other artists address inequalities in the global distribution of responsibility for and vulnerability to climate change in their work. A selection of recent humanities scholarship theorizing climate change and its cultural framings and impacts will provide a background for the discussion of a wide range of literary and artistic responses across different genres and media, from novels, stories, poems, and plays to essays, films, artworks, and new media projects.

  • 20182017

    Literatures of Trauma (ENGL 125; UCLA)

    Since the 1990s, trauma has emerged as an important concept in literary and cultural studies. In this undergraduate course, team-taught by Stef Craps and Michael Rothberg, we will begin by exploring the rise of trauma theory, an approach meant to shed light on the event and aftermath of extreme violence. Working from the founding texts of the field as well as recent critiques and revisions, we will address the contributions a theory of trauma can make to understanding modern histories and literatures of violence. Because such a theory seeks to describe a kind of violence that persists beyond an initial event, memory also becomes a central notion in approaches to trauma. Trauma both troubles ordinary memory and seems to call for new forms of remembrance, testimony, and witness as part of strategies of working through and confronting violence. Once we have established trauma, memory, and testimony as key categories, we will read, view, and discuss a variety of literary, cinematic, and artistic works that respond to different types of trauma, ranging from sexual violence, through war, slavery, colonialism, and the Holocaust, to climate change.

  • 20182015

    Postkoloniale geheugenstudies (ManaMa Literatuurwetenschap)

    Deze cursus zal de studenten introduceren tot de basisteksten van het veld van de postkoloniale geheugenstudies en hen ertoe in staat stellen literaire teksten die de herinnering aan koloniaal en imperiaal geweld en lijden oproepen, mobiliseren en representeren te analyseren tegen deze theoretische achtergrond. Bijzondere aandacht zal worden besteed aan de interactie tussen herinneringen aan verschillende historische tragedies, bijv. de Holocaust, de slavernij en het kolonialisme; de ethische en politieke dimensies van het getuigen; en de relatie tussen geweld, trauma en literatuur.

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Teaching History

  • 20172010

    Contemporary English Literature | Transcultural Holocaust Memory (MA)

    This course examines how, why, and to what effect the memory of the Holocaust is invoked, mobilized, and represented in a wide variety of literary works – novels, essays, plays, and poems from around the English-speaking world – that relate the Nazi genocide of the European Jews to other catastrophic histories, such as the genocide of the Native Americans, African American slavery, colonial oppression, the Partition of British India, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We will analyse the nature of the mnemonic connections which these texts establish, explore the meaning of the new perspectives on the past which they open up, and study the ethico-political stakes involved in their reconfiguration of culturally prevalent concepts and frameworks of memory.

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  • 20152006

    Seminar English Literature (BA3)

    This course aims to assist students in conceiving, planning, researching, writing, and revising a BA paper in the field of literature in English. Simulating the process of producing a scholarly article from idea to print, this course gives students insight into the specific demands of literary research and provides them with hands-on experience of reporting research results, both orally and in writing.

  • 20082006

    English Literature III: Modern Period | Literary Witnessing in Cross-Cultural Perspective (BA3)

    A cursory glance through the trend-setting literary studies journals of recent years suffices to establish that the relationship between literature, trauma, and ethics is among today’s hottest research topics. This course aims to explore this nexus through a theoretical introduction followed by critical readings of a selection of contemporary literary texts in English that bear witness to such historical traumas as African American slavery, the First World War, the Holocaust, and apartheid. By studying trauma and its literary witnessing in a transnational and intercultural context, it will expose and problematize trauma theory’s Eurocentric and monocultural tendencies, which are at odds with the field’s self-declared ethical foundations. Literary texts to be discussed: Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Caryl Phillips’s The Nature of Blood, J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, Antjie Krog’s Country of My Skull, Jane Taylor’s Ubu and the Truth Commission, and Pat Barker’s The Ghost Road.

  • 20062003

    English Literature: Capita Selecta | Trauma Representation in Contemporary Literature and Film (BA3)

    This course aims to introduce students to the concept of trauma as a tool for cultural analysis. By critically examining a number of contemporary English-language novels and films that deal with major historical traumas – ranging from US slavery, the First World War, and the Armenian genocide through to the Holocaust, the Cold War nuclear threat, and the September 11 terrorist attacks – students will gain a better understanding of how art bears witness to extreme events that defy the limits of representation and transmission. Specific issues that will be addressed include the double bind in which these works are caught as instances of trauma representation (that is, the simultaneity of necessity and impossibility in the act of bearing witness to unspeakable suffering), the adjustment of our skills as readers and as viewers that testimonial art demands, and the formation of an affective community encompassing both witnesses and listeners towards which it is directed. Novels and films to be discussed: Martin Amis’s Time’s Arrow, Pat Barker’s Regeneration, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Graham Swift’s Waterland, Atom Egoyan’s Ararat, Jules and Gédéon Naudet’s 9/11, and Christopher Nolan’s Memento.

  • 20062003

    English Literature II: Historical Survey: Seminars (BA2)

    This course will introduce students to a number of major literary texts in English from the Romantic to the contemporary period and enhance their reading skills. Writers whose work will be discussed include William Wordsworth, Matthew Arnold, Anthony Hecht, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Kazuo Ishiguro, and J. M. Coetzee.

  • 20062003

    English Literature I: An Introduction to English Drama, Poetry, and Prose (BA1)

    This course aims to give students insight into the specific characteristics of the three main genres of literary texts in the English language and to familiarize them with the basic terminology for textual analysis.

  • 19991998

    Oral Proficiency in Dutch (BA2)

    This course, which I taught as a language assistant in the Department of Dutch Studies at the University of Hull, aimed to develop students’ oral communication skills in Dutch.