Philip Weinstein

Philip Weinstein is Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English at Swarthmore College.  He teaches seminars in Modern Comparative Literature, as well as a range of courses in American and British fiction.  His publications include Henry James and the Requirements of the Imagination (Harvard Press, 1971), The Semantics of Desire: Changing Models of Identity from Dickens to Joyce (Princeton, 1984), Faulkner’s Subject: A Cosmos No One Owns (Cambridge, 1992), What Else But Love? The Ordeal of Race in Faulkner and Morrison (Columbia, 1996), and, most recently, Unknowing: The Work of Modernist Fiction (Cornell, 2005).

His course offerings include:

English 9E: First-Year Seminar: The Subject in Question

How do we become who we are? What social discourses and practices enable the shaping of identity? How does reading affect this process? This course will explore the ways in which subjectivity and ideology interpenetrate within a range of texts and our commentary upon them. Writers will include Shakespeare, Flaubert, Kafka, Faulkner, Rich, Morrison, and DeLillo. Theoretical essays may also be assigned.

English 54: Core Course: Faulkner, Morrison, and the Representation of Race

This course has two abiding aims. One is to explore in depth—and back to back—the fiction of (arguably) the two major 20th-century novelists concerned with race in America. The other is to work toward evaluative criteria that might be genuinely attentive to both the intricacies of race and the achievements of form. A particular challenge will be the following: how to focus on race (and secondarily gender) yet keep the two writers’ distinctive voices from disappearing into “white/male” and “black/female.” Faulkner readings will include some short stories as well as  Light in August,Absalom, Absalom!, and Go Down, Moses. Morrison readings will include Playing in the Dark as well as Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, and Paradise.

English 72: Proust, Joyce, and Faulkner

Selections from Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, all of Joyce’s Dubliners and Ulysses, and Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom! Emphasis on the ideological and formal tenets of modernism.  A prior reading of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is recommended.

English 73: Modernism: Theory and Fiction

Drawing on a range of theorists and novelists, this course will explore some of the most compelling energies and problems that drive Western modernism (from the 1840s through the 1940s). Focus will be on modernism’s concern with shock rather than resolution, with the uncanny rather than the familiar. More broadly, the course will attend to modernism as a body of thought and expression committed less to knowledge than to “unknowing.” Theoretical readings begin with Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, to be followed by Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals and some of Freud’s major essays.  Fiction readings begin with Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground as a prelude to more sustained inquiry into Kafka (stories, The Trial), Proust (selections from Remembrance of Things Past), and Woolf (To the Lighthouse, Between the Acts). The course will conclude by attending to several pertinent essays in Benjamin’s Illuminations.

English 74: Modern Epic: Tolstoy, Joyce, and García Márquez

This course will examine three “encyclopedic” texts (War and Peace, Ulysses, One Hundred Years of Solitude) that rehearse and interrogate inherited paradigms of cultural identity, purpose, and destiny. Through sustained attention to formal and ideological tenets of these specific texts, we will also seek to interrogate some of the salient procedures of realism, modernism, and postcolonialism.

English 115: Seminar in Modern Comparative Literature

The fall semester will focus on fiction responsive to colonial and postcolonial conditions associated with British and American empire and hegemony. Writers will include Conrad, Forster, Achebe, Emecheta, Faulkner, García-Márquez, Morrison, Silko, Erdrich, and Rushdie. Considerable attention will also be paid to ancillary theoretical and critical materials.  [The last time this seminar will be taught is fall 2005.]

The spring semester will focus on modernism: theory and fiction. Drawing on a range of authors writing between the 1840s and the 1940s, this seminar will attend to the conceptual underpinnings of Western modernism and will seek to come to terms with several of its most salient texts. Primary readings will be drawn from among the following writers: Kierkegaard, Marx, Dostoevsky, Weber, Nietzsche, Freud, Rilke, Kafka, Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Adorno, and Benjamin. Secondary readings will include essays by Lukacs, Bakhtin, Canetti, De Certeau, and others. Students should have read Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man prior to taking this seminar.