IC Honors Seminar Spotlight: Literatures of the Security State: Privacy, Surveillance, and Modern Culture

anna-barriball_300.jpgWe’re kicking off seminar spotlights for Fall 2016! Check back regularly for information on all the seminars in the fall from the professors themselves. First up is English professor Chris Holmes is teaching a seminar on if privacy still exists using literature, discussions and film.

Describe your seminar in one sentence. There are 4million cctv cameras watching the city of London 24/7—does privacy still exist in any practical sense?

Describe your classroom style in one sentence.We will have intense conversations and Socratic debates driven by a focus on literary and cinematic arts.

What is one thing you hope students will take away from your seminar? I hope students leave my class with an understanding of literature as a counter-culture to the ideology of surveillance of everyone, always.”

What is one piece of advice you would give to students? Always be aware of what underlying power structures determine who is the watcher and who are the watched.”


Franz Kafka, The Trial

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener”

Julio Cortézar, “Blowup”

George Orwell, 1984

Patrick Flanery, I Am No One

Dave Eggers, The Circle (excerpts)

Alan Moore, Watchmen (graphic novel)

J.M. Coetzee, Life and Times of Michael K



Blow-Up, dir. Michelangelo Antonioni (1966)

Grey Gardens, dir. Albert Maysles, et al. (1975)

The Lives of Others, dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (2006)

The Conversation, dir. Francis Ford Coppola (1974)

Citizenfour, dir. Laura Poitras (2014)


Check out the entire list of seminars here and all the seminar spotlights here.