ENGL 391: Special Topics in Cultural Studies 1
Professor Alanna Thain
Office: Arts West 35 Phone: 514-398-6567
Office hours Tuesdays 1-3 E-mail: [email protected]
Teaching Assistant: Mary Towers ([email protected]
Office hours TBA
Classes: Tuesday and Thursday 4:05-5:25 Arts 260
Screenings (Required): Tuesdays 5:30-8:00 Arts W 215
Description: This fall, the Toronto International Film Festival plans to unveil a new
video game, “Body/ Mind/ Change” based on the films of David Cronenberg; this
title captures the major obsessions of Cronenberg’s long and productive career. His
early efforts produced gleeful, shocking and wildly inventive first films (Shivers,
Rabid, The Brood), prompting the invention of a new genre (body horror), a rash of
Grand Guignol nicknames (the Baron of Blood, the King of Venereal Horror), and
outraged debates in the House of Commons over public funding for popular horror
films. Although today he has become the eminence grise of Canadian Cinema, the
spectacular displays of his early films haven’t gone away, but have become a
molecular kind of mutation in films like Eastern Promises and A History of Violence.
Cronenberg’s body of work provides us with one of the best sets of texts for
exploring the mutations of our existence in an era of intensive technological change.
We will work through Cronenberg’s films as engagement with questions around
biotechnologies, media, memory, the body and the self, alongside key texts from
contemporary cultural theory.
Evaluation: Group Discussion Sections 20%; Screening Logs 30%; Final Paper or
Project 35%; participation 15%.
Required Text: Coursepack (McGill Bookstore); Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
and The Three Ecologies by Felix Guattari (Paragraphe Books).
Format of Class: Lecture, Screenings, Discussion.
NOTE: (1) McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore all students must
understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other
academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures
(see www.mcgill.ca/integrity for more information). (2) In accord with McGill
University’s Charter of Students’ Rights, students in this course have the right to
submit in English or in French any written work that is to be graded. (3) In the event of extraordinary circumstances beyond the University’s control, the content and/or
evaluation scheme in this course is subject to change.
Sept. 6 Intros and “At the Suicide of the Last Jew in the World in the Last Cinema in
Reading: “Having an Idea in Cinema” Gilles Deleuze (online)
Sept. 11 & 13 introductions; Shaviro “Bodies of Fear”Fuller “Introduction”; (online)
Sept. 18 & 20:Deleuze and Guattari. “ November 28, 1947: How Do You Make Yourself
a Body Without Organs?”; Jorholt “The Metaphor Made Flesh: A Philosophy of the Body
Disguised as Biological Horror Film.”
Sept. 25 & 27 Braidotti “Mothers, Monsters, and Machines.”;Pisters “Material Aspects
Screening: The Brood
Oct. 2 Guattari The Three Ecologies (pp. 1-45, I recommend the Genosko essay as
well) Huhtamo and Jussi “Introduction: An Archaeology of Media Archaeology.”
Oct. 9 & 11Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. “1730: Becoming-Intense, Becoming-
Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible...” von Uexkull, Jakob. “Forward and Introduction”
Screening: The Fly
NOTE: screening logs #1 due Oct. 9 (through Videodrome)
Oct. 16 & 18Wolfe “Introduction: What is Posthumanism?”; Parikka “Introduction” and
“Biomorphs and Boids: Swarming Algorithms.”
Screening: Dead Ringers
Oct. 23Wolfe “Flesh and Finitude: Bioethics and the Philosophy of Living.” ;
Burroughs, Naked Lunch
Screening: Naked Lunch Week Nine
Oct. 30 & Nov. 1 Parisi, “Technoecologies of Sensation” and Parisi “The Adventures of
Nov. 6 & 8 Simondon, Gilbert. “The Genesis of the Indivi