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William Faulkner: Absalom, Absalom!

at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research - Sunnyside

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Sunnyside, Queens
47-29 32nd Pl
Btwn 47th & 48th Avenues
Long Island City, New York 11101
Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 14
Teacher: Jude Webre

What you'll learn in this literature class:

For the historian C. Vann Woodward, living in the South at the height of Jim Crow, it was literature that awoke him to the myths and dissimulation of official white supremacy. In particular, William Faulkner’s novels—his 1936 classic Absalom, Absalom! especially—challenged the tendency of Southern historians to justify and validate the racist hierarchy of the South. In the novel’s search for the truth of the Sutpen family, Faulkner offered Woodward and his generation of white Southern liberals a “disquisition on how, thinking back, we come to know the past”—in particular the repressed history of slavery and its violent aftermath in Reconstruction. African American writers, such as James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, received Faulkner’s work more critically: they found his literary excavations fruitful, but his treatments of race limited and fatalistic. How can we understand the role of Faulkner’s literary intervention in the way in which “the South” narrated itself? What legacy did Faulkner leave in American literature?

In this course, we will read Absalom, Absalom! alongside fiction and essays by the writers Faulkner influenced. Considering his use of Gothic fiction and historical inquiry, students will examine how Faulkner probed the official evasions and fetid silences of Southern society in order to acknowledge racism’s inextricable hold on the present. We will also examine the limits of his approach as described by postwar critics like James Baldwin, who argued that Faulkner accepted racism as a tragic inevitability rather than confronting Jim Crow head on. Besides Absalom, readings for the course will include selections from W.E.B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction in America, Woodward’s Strange Career of Jim Crow, Rober Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find, Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Morrison’s Beloved and Jordan Peele’s Get Out.

There *is* no physical Brooklyn Institute. We hold our classes all over (thus far) Brooklyn and Manhattan, in alternative spaces ranging from the back rooms of bars to bookstores to spaces in cultural centers, including the Center for Jewish History, the Goethe-Institut, and the Barnard Center for Research on Women. We can (and do) turn any space into a classroom. You will be notified of the exact location when you register for a class.

Instructors will contact students approximately one week prior to the first class with reading assignments and details about the course location.

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Refund Policy
Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.


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Reviews of Classes at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (17)

School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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