Point-of-View in the Novel
Section 01 – MW 12:30-1:45
Section 02 – MW 3:30-4:45
This course will focus on the introduction to the novel as a form, a means to view the world of the author/artist and the reader. Literature is an art whereby one consciousness seeks to communicate with another consciousness. One of the artist's techniques for controlling this flow is the concept of point of view. We will explore various approaches and uses of this "framing" in some nineteenth and twentieth century novels. The goal is to use an understanding of point of view to more fully comprehend, enjoy, and sensitively read this popular genre.Texts: Henry James, Turn of the Screw; Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights; Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary; Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome; James Joyce, Dubliners; William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!; Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter; E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime; Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke, Ha, Ha; and Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America.Requirements: regular class participation; two short papers, a mid-term; and a final.
Satire: Jonathan Swift to John Oliver
A study of great works of literary satire with attention to their continuing presence in contemporary popular culture. Authors to be discussed include Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Voltaire, Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, Nathanael West, Aldous Huxley, Langston Hughes, and Margaret Atwood. Films may include Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, the Chayefsky-Lumet Network, and Spike Lee’s Bamboozled. Television shows by Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and John Oliver will be analyzed in relation to satiric techniques used by Swift, Twain, and other writers. Some large questions will concern satire’s balancing of qualities often considered irreconcilable, such as social engagement and aesthetic distance, indignation and humor, pacifism and violence, irony and idealism. Writing assignments will include critical analyses and an (optional) original satire.
The Gothic Novel
"From ghoulies and ghosties/ And long-leggedy beasties/ And things that go bump in the night,/ Good Lord, deliver us!" Why do we enjoy being scared out of our wits? Since its inception in the late eighteenth century, generations have loved the Gothic Novel with its grotesque murders and bizarre terror. The course will study a number of the most celebrated Gothic tales from horrors in castles and monasteries (Lewis's The Monk) to mysterious love stories (Brontë's Wuthering Heights) to the eerie stories of the paranormal (Shelley's Frankenstein) to contemporary horror stories. The purpose will be to study the ways in which the Gothic Novel entertains us and what it is about us that loves to be entertained by the Gothic.
ENGL 20174/ESS 33624 – Crosslist
Shakespeare and Tolkien: Literature in the Classroom
Central to this course is the study of Shakespeare and Tolkien, both of whom, while separated by over 300 years, nevertheless "stay in the mind." We will examine in-depth Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, and Lord of the Rings, aiming to hone your ability to read closely and carefully and to write strong literary analyses. We will also examine these works in the context of contemporary education (where, for example, students complain about reading in part because they lack the skills and patience to read long or difficult texts), aiming to address questions about the purpose of literature and issues of literacy in our schools today.
ENGL 20179/IRLL 20116 - Crosslist
Modern Literature in Irish
This course offers an introduction to modern and contemporary Irish language literature. We will begin by tracing the influence of the Revival and cultural nationalism on the development of a modern literature in the Irish language. We will read key texts in the light of the national narrative, taking note of cultural change and contested identities in considering the specificities of a literature that can trace an unbroken line to what is often described as the oldest vernacular literature in Europe. Among the texts discussed will be work by Pearse, Ó Conaire, the Blasket autobiographies, Ó Cadhain, Ó Ríordáin, Ní Dhomhnaill, Mac Lochlainn among others. All texts will be read in translation. Relevant documentaries will also be used and shown in class to further illustrate and elucidate the work of particular authors.
ENGL 20213/MI 20001 –Crosslist
The World of the Middle Ages
Daniel Hobbins, Emily Kirkegaard, Yin Liu, Sean Sapp, Benjamin Wright
The Middle Ages have been praised and reviled, romanticized and fantasized. The spectacular popularity of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Narnia have brought a revival of interest in and curiosity about the Middle Ages. But what were they like, these ten centuries between Rome and the Renaissance? In this course, we will explore major themes and issues in medieval civilization in an attempt to offer some basic answers to that question. We will have in view three kinds of people: rulers, lovers, and believers. But we will also study carefully those who wrote about those kinds of people. We will constantly ask how can we know about the Middle Ages, and what kinds of things can we know? We will consider major literary texts as both works of art and historical documents. We will explore various kinds of religious literature. We will try to understand the limits, boundaries, and achievements of philosophy and theology. Some lectures will incorporate medieval art so as to add a visual dimension to our explorations. This course will constitute an extended introduction to the dynamic and fascinating world of the Middle Ages.
Corequisite: MI 22001
Writing Women in Medieval England
This course explores medieval texts written both by and about women, from household letters and medical texts to religious treatises and devotional works. Key themes shared by these texts include the representation of women, gender, and sexuality; the conflict between and possible resolution of religious ideals and the secular life; and the problem of women's self‐definition in a culture in which definitions of creativity and authority commonly excluded women. By tracing these themes across a range of canonical and non‐canonical works, this course will illuminate the complex role of women in medieval literature and demonstrate the vital importance of medieval writings by and about women to our own age.
Medievalisms in Contemporary Culture
Considering how far removed we are from the historical Middle Ages, references and portrayals of this era surface surprisingly often in our contemporary imagination. Whether it is a blockbuster film, a massively popular HBO series, an insult in a religious debate, or a beloved historical novel, the 'medieval' remains current in many areas of society. In this course, we will examine the concept of 'medievalism' by considering contemporary texts and films that engage with the Middle Ages alongside texts written in medieval England. This will enable us to assess how these use an imagined version of the medieval era to grapple with modern issues. Topics to be discussed include the place of perennial heroes such as King Arthur and Robin Hood, Walt Disney's use of the medieval past in animated films, gender and sexuality in medieval and modern literature, and alternative models of time in text, film, and drama.
Shakespeare is an intensive introduction to seven of Shakespeare’s most enduring dramatic works. Our major objective will be to become fluent readers of Shakespeare. In order to do so, we will attend to the historical distinctiveness of early modern English and to the rhetorical complexity of Shakespeare's language. Over the semester we will read Midsummer Night’s Dream, Merchant of Venice, Richard II, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Lear, and The Tempest.
Assignments will include regular reading quizzes, two papers, a midterm, a final, and several smaller assignments designed to help students engage with Shakespeare’s language.
British Romanticism and Religion
Romanticism has long been considered an exciting and turbulent literary era because of the tumultuous effects of such secular developments as the French Revolution, radical politics, and the industrial revolution, but great religious controversies also played a vital role in the age’s literary formations. According to Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Religion, true or false, is and ever has been the centre of gravity in a realm, to which all other things must and will accommodate themselves.”1 But “vortex,” rather than “centre,” would be a better a way to characterize the unwieldy, multiple, and hostile religious forces competing for dominance throughout the Romantic age. Rife with religious anxieties, reform movements, and fanatical doomsday prophets, Britain was peopled with radical Protestant sects that vied with mainstream Anglicans for control over the hearts and minds of the British population. Catholics, Jews, Hindus, and Muslims appeared in the literature of the period, but generally depicted as fringe figures or dangerous groups of malcontents (as were the atheists). This course will examine how canonical and non-canonical poets and novelists confronted the major religious controversies of their day. From the rabid anti-Catholicism of the gothic novel, Blake’s mystical departures from mainstream Christianity, and Bryon’s ambivalent engagements with Islamic culture; to the lesser-known prophetic writings of populist prophets—Joanna Southcott and Richard Brothers—religious sensibilities were of primary concern as this literary culture negotiated its conflicts about the evolving nature and status of divinity and the supernatural.
As a term in European cultural history, decadence most often indicates a late-nineteenth-century movement in which writers and artists provoked the respectable middle class with racy, sordid, overblown and/or absurdist subject matter and methods. This course explores that environment but also takes a broader view, examining alternative visions of decadence over the last two centuries and more, where decadence becomes one way of viewing secular modernity more generally. Our materials include fiction, poetry, drama, philosophy, visual arts, cinema and criticism. Early on, we lay conceptual groundwork with texts by Freud and Nietzsche. Well-known authors (in addition to Freud and Nietzsche) include Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Walter Pater, Virginia Woolf, and Patrick Süskind. We also read several lesser-known authors and study films by Ken Russell, Peter Greenaway and Sally Potter. Please note that our discussion matter is not for the prudish or faint-hearted. Bring a tolerance for the grotesque and a readiness to think carefully about authors who deliberately challenge deeply held Western attitudes concerning morality and values. Assignments include two written exams (one or more in take-home format), an interpretive paper, and bi-weekly reflective writings.
Introduction to Irish Writers
As the visit to campus of the most recent Irish winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature suggests, this small island has produced a disproportionate number of great writers. Designed as a general literature course, the class will introduce the student to a broad range of Irish writers in English from the eighteenth century to the present. Writers will include Jonathan Swift, Maria Edgeworth, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Brian Friel, and John McGahern. We will also look at recent film versions of several of these writers' works, including Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest. Themes to be explored include representations of national character and the relationships between religion and national identity, gender and nationalism, Ireland and England, and "Irishness" and "Englishness." Students can expect a midterm, a paper (5-6 pages typed) and a final.
Co-Requisite: ENGL 22514
Dystopias: Recent Perspectives on the Family in Literature and Media
This course addresses the role and significance of the family in American and British texts written in the 20th century. The family will be treated as a concept that has been standardized, destroyed, and reconstructed in what we call “literature.” Terrible mothers and incestuous fathers gain special significance in the 20th century. How do these dysfunctional relationships, in a product of culture (i.e. the novel), reflect or even respond to difficult if not negative situations in real life? In other words what can the “literary” do that other forms of communication cannot and vice versa. How do we position ourselves in the world by looking at models of family? We will examine how economic, social, and political pressures alter the idea of family across time. To facilitate our investigation, we will read works by novelists like D. H. Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, and James Joyce, but also works of theory by Freud, Edward Said, and others.
Imagining Modern American Conservatism
This course interrogates the relationship between post-1945 literary production and American politics. More specifically, it focuses on American fiction within the socio-historical context of the rise of modern political conservatism in the United States from roughly the end of World War II through the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Using a variety of close-reading methodologies, students will examine the role American fiction played in the electoral and cultural fragmentation of New Deal-style liberalism in the late1960s and the subsequent rise of conservatism as it emerged in electoral politics through the medium of the Republican Party. The overarching goal of this course is to prepare students to be informed and sophisticated readers of any kind of print-based text that foregrounds the complex intersection between language, narrative and political ideology. Likely authors include Flannery O’Connor; Norman Mailer; Saul Bellow; William F. Buckley, Jr.; Ishmael Reed, Tom Wolfe and David Foster Wallace.
20th-Century Creature Poetry
The world of Harry Potter may have its fantastic beasts – and it may be able to tell you where to find them – but this course contends that British and Irish poetry has been a central place to locate such creatures – animals both fantastic and mundane – for the past hundred years. Throughout the semester, we will encounter many of the most important creatures to come out of this poetry, from W.B. Yeats’s rabbits and swans and D.H. Lawrence’s bats, to Ted Hughes’s “Thought-Fox” and Seamus Heaney’s otters and skunks, to the more otherworldly creatures of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s mermaids and Edwin Morgan’s Loch Ness Monster. Though the course will touch on many cultural concerns through its poetic focus on the “creaturely” – concerns such as those surrounding gender and class, race and the postcolonial – its running interests will include that of anthropomorphism and the depiction of nonhuman experiences and phenomenologies, including the ecological fantasy of human annihilation. In addition, we will examine literary features such as genre and form, and will pair several weeks’ poems with non-poetic fictional texts. Students will be graded on class participation, a project of collaborative design, several small writing assignments, and two substantial writing assignments.
Great New Books
Kate Marshall and Barry McCrea
What can novels tell us about how the world works? What can they tell us about the times we live in? In this course we will read a selection of quality contemporary fiction by writers from the US, Europe, Latin America and other parts of the globe. The twenty-first century has seen unexpected innovations in contemporary fiction, as well as the resurgence of literary forms that were important to earlier ages; the past decade has also seen a surge in the popularity of novels as the basis for television series or film adaptations. The course will introduce students to tools for understanding style, plot, narration, point of view, and structure. We will also read essays and reviews by writers, critics, and intellectuals about the books we discuss. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with some of the best writers writing today and will have developed lasting skills which will enable them to read, analyze, and think about all kinds of fiction in deeper, more satisfying and challenging ways.
Co-Requisite: ENGL 22510
Great New Books Discussion
Kate Marshall and Barry McCrea
Discussion for Great New Books.
Introduction to Irish Writers Discussion
Discussion for Introduction to Irish Writers.