Must we divide literary history into periods? This course focuses on the history, politics, and consequences of periodization. Topics include the medieval/modern divide, the concept of renaissance, the relationship between literary periods and national politics, modernity and postmodernity, colonialism and postcolonialism, and alternatives to traditional periodization. As the PhD seminar, this course also functions as a workshop in genres of scholarly writing, such as book reviews and articles.


I. Narratives
Why periodization matters
Genre / before periodization
Modernism / modernity / renaissance

II. Institutions
Profession / discipline
Language / method

III. Politics
Sovereignty / feudalism / colonialism
Colonialism / space / social power

  1. Ted Underwood, Why Literary Periods Mattered

course website