Ever since Don Quixote made Sancho Panza his squire, promising the governorship of an island, the rant has been an essential aspect of literature. Ever since Cato eloquently raved in the Roman forum, the rant has been endemic to political life and historical understanding. We’ve spouted off a long way since then, from Hamlet in Shakespeare and Martin Luther’s theses to Krapp’s Last Tape and the Son of Sam.
In this course we will explore some contemporary philippics, polemics and diatribes: fictional and nonfictional, well-considered and unhinged, intellectual and furious and furiously intellectual. We will read (or watch, or listen to) ethical pleas, evil manifestos, and the ravings of the mad.
Modernist steam-of-consciousness is old hat; theatre of the absurd’s passé. How do we rant now?
- The Verificationist by Donald Antrim (novel)
- Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer (memoir)
- Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald, trans. Anthea Bell (novel)
- Secret Honor by Donald Freed, dir. Robert Altman (film)
- Excerpts from “Frances Farmer is my Sister” by Kate Zambreno (blog)
- Unconstitutional by Colin Quinn, dir. Jerry Seinfeld (play)
- Extinction by Thomas Bernhard, trans. David McLintock (novel)
- “New Slaves” by Kanye West et al. (song)
- Operation Shylock: A Confession by Philip Roth (novel)
- “To: America, Subj: Last Resort” by Christopher Dorner (Facebook post)
- Excerpts from 2083: A European Declaration of Independence by Anders Brevik (blog)
- “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution” by Elliot Rodger (YouTube video)