In spring 2009, the Department of English is offering an exciting new course on the Ian Fleming novels and the Albert and Barbara Broccoli film franchise. The course also covers satiric representation of Cold War spy movies, specifically Dr. Strangelove and Austin Powers. It offers students a unique opportunity to think about film, literature and cultural studies.
The course’s professor, Dr. Steven Wexler, says, "In addition to seeing the early Bond project as a response to the UK’s shrinking imperialism--an attempt to uphold the appearance of a world power--the books" and early films" representation of Bond"s "gentleman" could be seen as a response to a rising "dark" immigration to Britain, particularly from the former colonies, e.g., India and Pakistan. Just as the 18th-century "English gentleman" served to seal and sustain a distinct English nationalism, a kind of "british" that would squeeze out competing varieties, e.g., Welsh and Scottish, so too, does the James Bond gentleman squeeze out "colonial" versions of British."
Hopefully these insights will leave students shaken and stirred.
English professor Ranita Chatterjee resisted reading the Harry Potter books. She was happy the books had inspired a generation to read, but was not interested herself particularly interested in children’s literature. Her entire family had read the books and kept pressuring her to read them. She relented, and became hooked, reading the first six books in a rapid succession, and eagerly awaiting the publication of the seventh and final book. In fact, so eager was she that she found herself, at midnight on the release date, waiting with hundreds of fellow fans, outside a bookstore in her hometown in Canada. The outdoor mall had been transformed for the event into a replica of Diagon Alley, right down to Gringotts Wizarding Bank and the Weasley brothers’ joke store. Acrobats were playing Quidditch on a high wire above the crowd.
Dr. Chaterjee translated her enthusiasm into a senior honors tutorial she is offering in spring 2009. What Dr. Chaterjee found upon reading the books was an appreciation for the depth of the characters. She saw the books as Gothic literature and worthy of introspection and academic criticism. She will present a paper at an academic conference in the United Kingdom in the summer of 2009 on Harry Potter, as seen through the lens of contemporary literacy and critical theories, especially post structuralism, Feminisms, Queer theory, Psychoanalysis, Marxism, and Cultural Materialism, post colonialism, and Cultural Studies.