British and American Women Writers
This course examines the relationship between women writers and their work through the study of literature by and about women. We will discuss key themes and areas of interest for British and American writers, including women and work, education, race, class, identity, and family. We will read works by women as they relate to broader implications involving social, historical, political, and cultural issues. The course will cover women’s literature from the 17th century to today and will include writers who represent diverse racial, economic, gender, and regional backgrounds. We will consider both continuities and changes in how women’s lives are depicted and how women use literature as both a form of artistic expression and as a vehicle for voicing socio-cultural issues. We will also reflect on how social attitudes have shaped perceptions of women and women’s perceptions of themselves. Classes will include discussion, lectures about each writer, as well as oral and written projects. We’ll read a variety of genres including novels, short stories, poetry, drama, and memoir, focusing on critical analysis of various kinds of writings done by women and how these writings reflect diverse definitions of feminism. Through these texts, we will investigate how the margins are being redefined in women’s writing and how the canonical center is being relocated and redefined. Authors will include a broad range of British and American women, including Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Brontë, Amy Levy, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edith Wharton, Zora Neale Hurston, Shirley Jackson, Jean Rhys, and Helen Oyeyemi.
This course focuses on poetry and fiction of the Romantic era. Students will gain increased knowledge of the study of poetics, specifically, the Romantic ideas about poetry, its creation, and its purposes, as well as an appreciation of the rise of the novel during the Romantic period. This course also emphasizes the importance of the history of the Romantic period (roughly 1789-1840) and how historical and cultural events (such as the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of the middle-class) affected both fiction and poetry in Britain during this time. We will examine individual author biographies as well, and how the author’s life is reflected in his or her literary work.
The British Ghost Story
This course is centered on British ghost stories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We will explore how authors deal with personal and political issues in their supernatural writing and how this literature is influenced by its historical and cultural moment. We will read a variety of short stories and think about how Gothic literature reflects the changes and anxieties in British life throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Texts: Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories, Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories, The Turn of the Screw.
Criminals and Monsters
This course examines how representations of crime and terror in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British literature encode our individual and national anxieties about the dark side of life – our fears of the unknown, the irrational, the supernatural; our fears of victimization, of gender difference, of identity-loss; our fears of dissolving or transgressed boundaries between self and other, sanity and madness, civilization and savagery, good and evil. Texts: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, East of Suez, The Beetle, The Woman in Black.
Frankenstein at 200 (Honors College)
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s pioneering science fiction novel Frankenstein. Shelley’s “hideous progeny” created a sensation in 1818 and continues to fascinate—and terrify—its modern audiences. In this course, we will explore why Frankenstein remains relevant today. We will consider the origins of Shelley’s novel, from the core ideals of the Romantic movement to the medical and technological innovations that inspired the work of literature’s first “mad scientist”: Dr. Victor Frankenstein. We will also explore literary works directly influenced by Frankenstein. These include later 19th-century imaginings of science-gone-wrong: R.L. Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) and H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896). Moving into the 21st century, we will discuss Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005), a work which questions the ethics of cloning human organ donors. This course will conclude with an examination of how the Frankenstein myth endures today, from scientific ethics to popular culture.
This course will be centered on Gothic fiction in Britain during the Victorian period. We will explore how authors deal with personal and political issues in their supernatural writing and how this literature is influenced by its historical and cultural moment. We will read a variety of short stories and novels and think about how Gothic literature reflects the changes and anxieties in British life throughout the Victorian era. Texts: Late Victorian Gothic Tales, Weird Stories (Riddell), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Beetle, Dracula, The Blood of the Vampire.
Literature of the First World War (Honors College)
In trying to gain a better understanding of the response of the First World War poets, it is important to broaden the range of voices who spoke about the war through their writing. Scholars tend to focus on the same group of poets, those typically found in anthologies: Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Isaac Rosenberg, and Rupert Brooke. Considering the wealth of writing that came from the four years of fighting, and a large majority of that writing being poetry, it would be advantageous to combine discussions of these men with the writings of more obscure poets who published collections of poetry but who have not yet received much critical attention. Therefore, a major objective of this course is to highlight the poetry of those lesser-known poets. We will be considering such questions as: How do these “new” voices respond to the war? Do they respond differently or allow us to see the war differently through their experiences? How do their responses compare to the traditional war poets? We will also be reading these war poems in their historical contexts. In so doing, we will consider soldiers’ letters, memoirs, journals, and diaries; their public and private statements about war; and how the war was “sold” to the public through propaganda and censorship. Texts: Regeneration, The Great War and Modern Memory, The Somme: Including Also the Coward, The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry, Not So Quiet…, The Return of the Soldier.
Popular Literature in America
This course focuses on sensationalism and popular literature in 18th-20th century America. This course seeks to examine the development of the “sensation novel”—the nineteenth century’s best-selling genre on both sides of the Atlantic—and to consider the emergence of a new kind of writing that reflected and explored issues related to race, class, and gender. This course will offer an exploration of various “popular” novels and short fiction that captivated the reading public and became bestsellers, including detective fiction, thrillers, and Gothic literature. Texts: Ormond, The Dead Letter, The Figure Eight, The Leavenworth Case, Alcott’s “blood and thunder” tales (“Behind a Mask,” “Pauline’s Passion and Punishment,” “The Mysterious Key,” and “The Abbot’s Ghost”), The Haunting of Hill House.
This course examines how representations of horror and terror in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British literature encode our individual and national anxieties about the dark side of life – our fears of the unknown, the irrational, the supernatural; our fears of victimization, of gender difference, of identity-loss; our fears of dissolving or transgressed boundaries between self and other, sanity and madness, civilization and savagery, good and evil. This course will combine short stories with novels in an attempt to define the idea of Gothic. We will trace such themes as “female Gothic” and “imperial Gothic.” Several classic horror films will also be viewed. Texts: The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre, Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood, The Beetle, Dracula, The Blood of the Vampire, The Haunting of Hill House, The Woman in Black.
Survey of British Literature I and II
An introduction to English literary history, emphasizing the analysis of literary texts, the development of literary traditions over time, the emergence of new genres and forms, and the writing of successful essays about literature.
Survey of Poetry
Poetry from several countries and historical periods, illustrating the nature of the genre. This course will be a survey of American and British poetry from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century. We will explore how poets of different backgrounds and time periods deal with personal and political issues in their writing and how poetry is influenced by its historical and cultural moment.
This course focuses on fiction and poetry of the Victorian era (c.1830-1901). Students will gain increased knowledge of the study of poetics, specifically, the Victorian ideas about fiction and poetry, its creation, and its purposes, as well as an appreciation of the importance of the novel during the Victorian period. This course also emphasizes the importance of the history of the Victorian period and how historical and cultural events (such as the Industrial Revolution, the rise of the middle class, women’s issues, domestic issues, imperialism, and urban communities) affected both fiction and poetry in Britain during this time. We will examine individual author biographies as well, and how the author’s life is reflected in his or her literary work. In order to get a sense of how the Victorians are “interpreted” today, selected films and documentaries will also be viewed throughout the semester.
This course will focus on poetry of the Victorian era (c. 1840-1914). We will explore how poets of different backgrounds and time periods deal with personal and political issues in their writing and how poetry is influenced by its historical and cultural moment. Texts: Broadview Anthology of Victorian Poetry (Concise Edition), Aurora Leigh, Augusta Webster: Portraits and Other Poems, Cambridge Introduction to Victorian Poetry.