Professor Emerita of Literature
Additional teaching and research interests include the literature and culture of the Southern U.S.; women's writing and the representation of gender; the representation of childhood and children's literature; and Irish literature and culture. Kennedy is currently engaged in a study of Virginia Woolf as a reader of Shakespeare.
This interdisciplinary course will combine critical approaches to childhoods with critical studies of literature. We will work on literary texts written for adults that feature children as subjects together with texts written for a young audience and some written by young people. We will explore questions about the representation of children and childhoods; children's agency; memory, loss, displacement, and resilience; and childhoods, imagination, and language. While we will read primarily English-language texts, we will also critically consider the canon of "fictions of childhood." This course is pitched at the Division II level and is not recommended for first-semester students.
Everyone who has read and written may know a desire to respond creatively to a work of art. But what kind of response may be urged by the work of the "greatest" writer who ever lived: William Shakespeare? Does one wish to mimic or to challenge? What does it mean to re-make Shakespeare? How can a modern work of art absorb something that different and that huge? This course will explore works of Shakespeare as the source of inspiration for arts verbal and visual, perfomative and rhetorical. We will read closely four plays from the latter half of Shakespeare's career and analyze artistic reactions to these texts in: modern world theater, film, fiction, and poetry, together with other selected visual representations of Shakespearean characters and scenes. Topics of discussion will include: reading, re-reading, adaptation and translation; the historical and cultural conditions of reception and canon-making; modern theoretical responses (psychoanalytic, postcolonial); as well as individual battles with and seductions by the Bard. There will be regular written responses expected--critical and perhaps creative--together with two formal analytic essays and one longer, developed paper or project.
In her 1924 essay "Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown," Virginia Woolf observed, "On or about December 1910, human character changed." Drawing inspiration from Woolf's famous phrase, this course focuses on modes of redescribing personhood in the work of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, placing their writings in the larger context of British culture between the First and Second World Wars. In addition to reading texts by these two foremost modernists to explore their experiments with form and voice, we will also read lesser-known writers whose work is in conversation with the modernist canon. Themes to be addressed include the disjointedness and fragmentation of modernity; war, violence, and trauma; gender, sexuality, and the nation. Frequent short responses and a substantial research paper will be required. This course is designed for students concentrating in literature, history, and cultural studies, and prior coursework in literary studies is strongly recommended.
"All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances. . ." --this over-quoted line belongs to the cynic, Jacques in As You Like It. But from the earliest plays though The Tempest at the end of his career, Shakespeare's characters struggle to address Lear's desperate question: "Who is it that can tell me who I am?" They struggle in the face of the realization that, whether they want to or not, they play "parts"-roles given them by birth and family, by their positions as social insider or outsider, by gender and the conventions of sexual desire, clothing, and language, by chance and circumstance. In this discussion-based, writing intensive seminar, we shall work through the texts of four of Shakespeare's plays, one from each of the major genres (history, comedy, tragedy, romance) and then collectively choose a fifth play for a final study and group presentations. We shall read the texts closely, with attention to metaphor, form, dramatic structure and historical context. We'll explore recent theoretical and critical approaches to the plays. There will be weekly short writing and two longer, revised essays. Students will collaborate on scene-studies and discuss several film versions of the plays.