R5A, Section 1: Present, interrupted: Textual Hauntings in Contemporary Italian Literature and Cinema

TuTh 8-9:30 | Dwinelle 235 | Instructor: Kyle Thomson

Units: 4

Do you believe in ghosts? What if I told you the ghosts we are looking for in this course inhabit not houses, but texts? The specters we will hunt for together lurk not around the foundations of a haunted house but in literary and filmic texts, which, arguably, constitute the foundation of our cultural understanding. The existence of ghosts disrupts our understanding of the fixity of the present by introducing a tenuous figure from the past, thereby undermining a system of temporal relations which would permit us to disregard the past’s impact on the present day. A ghost thus demands our attention, as readers and viewers, calling upon us to question what we think we know about the world around us. Who/what can be a ghost? What does it mean for a text to be haunted? What do we make of a collective haunting, when the affected is not just an individual but a larger group, an imagined community like the nation? To what ends does a ghost haunt, and what does it mean for a haunting to end?


The texts we will engage with in this class include novels, plays, films, and songs, all available in English. Primary readings will be supplemented by brief theoretical readings by Derrida, Spivak, Agamben, Huyssen, Ahmed, and more.