In the eighteenth century the Novel was a “new” genre, its conventions far from stabilized. These fictions experimented with modes of portraying consciousness and the external world, and tested out various narrative techniques; they thus beg the question of what a “novel” is. How does it go about its task of representation similarly to, or differently from, other genres? What is the experience it should create for the reader? (Do we read novels to learn about our world or to escape from it? Can novels “improve” us? Can they be dangerous?) Reading novels by Aphra Behn, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, Ann Radcliffe, and Jane Austen – as well as some of the contemporary reactions to them – we will consider who, and what, made, and makes, the novel the novel.
The eighteenth century witnessed what historians have called a “Consumer Revolution,” during which city spaces were flooded by all sorts of commodities, from parasols to gold-topped canes to tea to cosmetics to painted fans to “collector’s-edition” books (published by a new category of writer, the “professional” author). This course will examine the way that literature responded to, and participated in, the new commodity culture: How was this culture determined by, or constitutive of, gender identities? What was its relation to the mechanisms of Empire that supplied it? Looking at a variety of texts from verse-satires to engraved caricatures to periodical literature to stories told from the point of view of the objects themselves (stage-coaches, coins, and even furniture), we will explore how commodities – and literature as commodity – mediated, or redefined, human experiences.
The 19th century novel has often been associated with what we popularly refer to as “Victorian” values: happy marriages; wholesome domesticity; religious rectitude; sexual prudery; moral propriety; moderated emotions; properly channeled ambitions. These novels, moreover, have been celebrated for being a “good read”: leisurely page-turners that remain comfortable and cozy. Many of the most popular 19th century novels, however, paint a very different picture: with madwomen locked in attics and asylums; monsters, real and imagined, lurking behind the scenes, and showing their head behind the façade of propriety; genteel homes harboring opium addicts; “fallen women” walking the streets; and sexual transgression and degeneracy more common than it would seem. Indeed, for novels so centrally structured around marriage and society, madness and monstrosity appear with alarming regularity – in the margins of the texts, if not at their very core. This is especially the case in novels written by women, and in novels (whether written by women or men) written for women - written to appeal to the significant and rapidly growing female portion of the novel-reading public. Among other things, then, these novels stage the pleasures and dangers of novel reading: the insistent intertwining of the tropes of madness, marriage, and monstrosity in these works suggests some of the cultural anxieties unleashed by the unprecedented growth in women’s novel reading. this new body of women readers. The course will begin with Frankenstein and end with Dracula - two novels from opposite ends of the century that stand as fascinating and preeminent meditations on the course’s central themes they are also both works that turn out to be very different from what popular films and adaptations have taught us to think). In between, we will consider such classic marriage plot novels as Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre; we will also look at some examples of the popular “sensation fiction” of the 1860s (Collins’ The Woman in White and/or Lady Audley’s Secret), and possibly an example of the “new woman” fiction from the century’s end - featuring the sexually liberated and professionally ambitious woman.
The course covers the period roughly between World War I and World War II, dealing with the rich creativity we associate with Modernism. We will read and discuss such writers as Eliot, Faulkner, Hemingway, Dos Passos, Steinbeck, etc., studying not only the works but some of the major trends in art, culture, and knowledge that make the modern period so important and exciting. The method will be a combination of close reading, lecture, and discussion with (probably) one short paper and one longish paper.
This course surveys the entire tradition of African-American drama, paying particular attention to the genre's formal characteristics. Plays will also be read and discussed with attention to specific historical and thematic contexts, such as the era of slavery, social protest, interracial relations, intra-racial differences of class, gender, and sexuality, and contemporary attitudes toward black history. Featured playwrights include James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Alice Childress, Charles Fuller, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Suzan-Lori Parks, Ntozake Shange, Anna Deavere Smith, August Wilson, George C. Wolfe, and others. Required texts include "Black Theatre USA: Plays by African Americans 1847 to Today." Students will be evaluated on class participation, weekly reading responses, and two formal papers. Students will also be required to attend Wednesday evening screenings of video/film performances of (approximately) eight of the course's plays or to view these performances independently.
In this class we will read widely in the writings by these three crucial figures in American nineteenth-century literature. We will relate their work to their cultural and historical moment, and also consider how they become founding figures both in an American literary and poetic tradition and also in the transatlantic development of modernism.
This course will survey the major schools of modern and postmodern literary criticism and theory, including formalism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, gender and race theory, queer theory, new historicism and cultural studies, post-colonial criticism, and deconstruction. Our purpose will be not only to understand the ideas of these different schools of thought but also to discern the ends which these ideas serve in their critical and institutional contexts. Course requirements: daily reaction paragraphs, a 5-page mid-term paper, and a 15-page final paper (graduate students must write a 25-to 30-page final paper.
The course will explore lyric poetry in English in all of its variety, from many different periods. The principal aim is to get students to feel at home reading individual poems very closely, getting the feel for the way metaphor works, understanding the resources of form - meter and rhyme - and the serious play with language and the often extravagant shapes of voice and fantasy that mark lyric poetry. We'll try to understand the power of poetic gesture, poetry's way of telling a story and its way of being silent. We will consider why lyric poetry, though often oblique and riddling on its surface, is as John Milton said the most "simple, sensuous, and passionate" form of literary speech. Topics to be studied will include particular traditions of lyric poetry, such as prayer, ballad, and elegy; we will also be looking closely at groups of poems by a few particular authors, including Shakespeare's "Sonnets" and the lyric poems of Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop, to see how poets stamp their work, however steeped in tradition, with an individual voice.
This course explores ways in which myth functions to create psychological and social identities within cultural frameworks. The syllabus moves in two directions: inward through a configuration of related stories toward the heart of cultural aspirations, and outward through the cultural anxieties and tensions that manipulation of those stories attempts to redress. We will explore a host of genres – tales, graphics, musicals, opera, poetry, and cinema. The texts concentrate primarily on a constellation of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast adaptations, with occasional glances at Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Frog Prince, and some of the Jack stories. Our concern will be with the didactic implication of action/adventure plots, paradigms of exile and return, the ideologies underlying the dynamics of oppression, pain fetishes, aspiration, and recovery; we will explore religious and psychological quests for security through the balancing of sociological independence with the reinscription of cultural values. We will examine issues of childhood, adolescence, midolescence, and the aged as myth addresses the requirements of each. We will be particularly interested in historical perspectives as societies perpetually revise and revitalize their visions of themselves through the rewriting and replaying of their mythologies. We will examine briefly cultural crises in France in the late 17th and 18th centuries, which established fairy tales as an aristocratic literary genre directed toward an emerging middle class; the social and gender issues of an industrialized England in the 19th and 20th centuries (Robert Samber, Charles Dickens, George Cruikshank, James Barrie, Angela Carter); the American Frontier and new world aspirations of the 19th and 20th centuries (from transcendentalism, dime novels, Horatio Alger, local colorists, to feminist revisionists and African American adaptations), with some attention also directed toward Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Asian American Literature is primarily a literature of the 20th and 21st centuries, with dramatic growth in the past half century or so. We will focus on the literary genres of APA works from the past century--drama, fiction, poetry, memoir--and we will also pay attention to cinematic texts. Our literature includes works by Chinese American, Filipina American, Indian American, Korean American, Japanese American, and Vietnamese American authors. Some prior knowledge of 20th century U.S. literature or Asian Pacific Islander American history will be helpful, but not necessary. (For those who have not taken history courses or who wish for a refresher see the books by Such Chan or Ronald Takaki, listed under recommended texts.) In addition to the study of genres, we will analyze Asian/Pacific Islander/American texts by interrogating myths, "foundational fictions", fantasies and the fantastical. Edward Said usefully argues in Orientalism that Europe imagined the "Orient" since it "helped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience" (1978). We will read works of Asian American literature that revise and incorporate Asian myths, and contrast these with the West's popular imagination of the "Orient".
This course - part of the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Program - will address the nature of popular culture through stories of Robin Hood. Though we will study the early broadsheets and ballads, we will mainly concentrate on prose retellings. These will include Howard Pyle’s standard version (1883); students will be asked to contrast this with a 20th-century prose version of their choice. These will be read in conjunction with recent “outlaw” fiction by pre-eminent literary novelists, including Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang (Booker Prize, 2001) and Michael Ondaatje’s Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1996; Booker Prize for The English Patient), and a recent “novelization” from a female perspective (perhaps Robin McKinley or Catherine Todd). We will also look at earlier tabloid biographies of Robin Hood, associating him with tricksters, criminals, highwaymen, as well as noble bandits. As part of the entrepreneurial work for the course, class members will find, edit, and prepare their own texts of these early materials for e-publication; they will also create digital images of books and artifacts they work with, all of which will be uploaded to the Robin Hood website that is currently under construction. In this way, students will also be involved in website design, market research (ie, who will come if we build this website? With what constituencies in mind should we design it?), and issues of property rights in private and public domains. Students will have access to our local archive of some 2000 books, posters, printed materials, and artifacts, and will consider issues such as the nature of children’s literature, the audiences for ballads and chapbooks, the transition of popular written materials to visual media (woodcuts, engravings, color lithographs, comic books, silent cinema. Hollywood, video coteries [porn and gay RH, etc]), commercial appropriation of RH and “branding,” etc. The research, editing, and technological work of the course will proceed in a hands-on and cooperative way, and each member of the class is expected to produce several projects over the course of the semester, some conventional and some linked to the RH website. Ultimately, the course, like the site, will attempt to enable mixed audiences to have digital access to those material objects and practices that provide the basis for reconstructing our understanding of popular culture over the last 500 years, insofar as Robin Hood and outlawry provide a focus.
English 252: Theater in England will be conducted in London & Stratford-upon-Avon from Friday, December 29, 2006, through Saturday, January 13, 2007 (16 nights). We will see about 20 plays. Classes are held in the Harlingford Hotel in London, where we reside. The schedule of plays is not yet available, but it will include a full range of genres, from tragedy, history, and comedy to pantomimes and musicals, We will see the best of what is on when we are there. If you wish to see what students have seen on previous years go the Website for the course where you can investigate various aspects of the seminar syllabuses from 1992 to the present, student journals, information about the Harlingford Hotel at 61-63 Cartwright Gardens, the London Theatre scene in general, our trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, the visit to Warwick Castle, a host of pictures of students doing things, and so on. The course is restricted to 23 students and carries four credits. The fee is $2000.00, which includes tickets to all plays and housing, but not transportation to and from London. A down payment of $700.00 is due at the English Office in Morey Hall on or before Monday, October 9. The remaining $1300.00 will be charged to your November term bill. Students must obtain passports and make their own travel arrangements to and from London. You will need to leave the United States on the evening of December 27 or morning of December 28, at the latest. Return flights may be scheduled for Sunday, January 14, or later. The UR second semester begins on Wednesday, January 17, 2007. The grade for the course is based primarily on the student journal. You may obtain the application form from the English Department or Professor Peck. You need permission of the instructor to register. See Professor Russell A. Peck, Rush Rhees 416 (Robbins Library), MW 11:00-2:30 or by appointment (phone 275-0110 or 473-7354).
An introduction to the history, technology, and cultural significance of motion pictures of the pre-sound era, with screenings of 35mm prints accompanied by live music in the Dryden Theatre. Special attention will be paid to the major pioneers, Dickson, Porter, Lumière, Melies, and Griffith, but the course will include a variety of internationally produced films selected from the world famous archival film collection of the George Eastman House. Discussion sessions will cover the origins and development of the motion picture industry and its leading genres up to the general introduction of movies with pre-recorded music, sound and dialog, beginning in 1927. Broad issues relating to the transformation of American and world popular entertainment forms and traditions, in relation to the established performing arts of the period, will also be covered. Relevant connections to preserving the worlds film heritage will be highlighted and the film restoration facilities of the Motion Picture Department will be visited in the course of the semester. Meets at George Eastman House. Enrollment is limited to 20 students.
This course will attempt to cover the history, literature, and above all, the cinema of vampirism from the silent era through the present day. We will study a number of important examples of the form, read a couple of significant literary works about the vampire, especially Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula", and also employ one or two texts that deal with the vampire in cinema.
The course examines diasporic Chinese cinemas from the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC), Hong Kong (HK), the U.S. and Canada. We will pay special attention to the migrations of individuals (actors, actresses, directors, cinematographers, and others) and to texts (the films and in some cases television programs). We will cover a wide variety of genres, including epic, martial arts, action, thriller, comedy, and drama. Some experience with film studies, especially world cinema, and Chinese history will be helpful but not required. Outside screenings of films are required. Not open to students who took Eng 467, Topics in Media Studies: Chinese Cinemas, in fall 2004.
Examines a specific topic in film studies, topic to be determined.
Recently the large-scale dissemination of erotic and pornographic literature and film has begun to affect the majority of the population in the West. There are two main issues in the course:1) the history of the changing genres of erotica and the social changes taking place because of its wide dissemination; and 2) the proposition that if societies were different little harm and much good would come from the inclusion of erotica in people’s reading and viewing habits: erotic materials, by removing sex from the realm of the forbidden and viewing it as a species of everyday life, can contribute to the education of both sexes and people of all sexual tastes and preferences. The history of erotica is similar to the history of literacy in the following sense: both are entities to which only the privileged members of society have had extended access and which have recently become available to majorities. Readings in the course will concentrate on classical, early modern, enlightenment, and contemporary erotica, with attention to the contemporary debates about pornography begun by the activism of MacKinnon and Dworkin. Of particular interest in this critique is the claim that erotic materials encourage the practice of violence against women and children, and help to promote a culture dependent on the use of force and violence. The course reviews the current debate on pornography and sexually explicit language as a context for viewing the history of the more familiar erotic materials from classical times, through the Renaissance and 18th century, to D.H. Lawrence, Erica Jong, Margaret Atwood, Eve Ensler, “8 mm,” adult videos, and the internet. The seminar moves back and forth between the study of its critical and historical treatments. At the end of the seminar we return to some of the contemporary genres (including those made by and for women) for examination in the context of the history of its use in the past.
This workshop is for advanced fiction writers who have completed ENG 121. The course emphasizes the development of each student's individual style and imagination, as well as the practical and technical concerns of a fiction writer's craft. Students will not only be asked to locate a context for their fictions by situating their poetics among a community of other fiction writers, but also to envision how their stories might intersect with other fictional works. Each writer will be expected to conceive each story within the scope of a larger fiction project as well as to revise extensively in order to explore the full range of the story's narrative themes. Permission of instructor required.
This course considers the issues raised in Walter Ong's 1982 study, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. His account relates the growth of writing and print to the development of science and modern rational thought, exploring possible changes in collective consciousness as a result of the shift of media emphasis. The course pays attention to orality as it appears in some classical sources, with interest in Plato's suspicion of the power of oral poetry, and in European medieval traditions. consider the levels of literacy achieved in ancient society; we will also look. Central to these discussions will be the roles language and literature in the lives of non-literate people as contrasted with the literate. Some reference is made to the levels of literacy achieved in ancient societies. Study of the modern and contemporary periods focuses on such practices as conversation, becoming literate, collection of oral accounts and their uses, the uses of ethnographic writing, and the different approaches to speech, writing, and language in African American and white communities. A key aim of the course is to show the politics, mutual dependency, and reciprocity of oral and literate uses of language in literary and nonliterary contexts. Our aim will be to stress the complementarity of oral and literate uses of language in literature, daily speech, electronic media, and non-literary contexts. This topic offers students a broad range of research areas, as the issue appears in many parts of literary and social history. At the same time, as suggested in Ong’s study, the issues are relatively clear and available to comprehension in a variety of modes.
This course will focus on the position of Malory’s Morte d’Arthur in the development of the Arthurian legends and will consider the Morte both as one of the great books of all literature and as the most important Arthurian text for the English-speaking world. Malory draws on two traditions, a chronicle and a romance tradition, which have their roots in the works of Geoffrey of Monmouth and Chrétian de Troyes. These Arthurian antecedents as well as the courses of Malory’s great book – including parts of the Vulgate and Post-Vulgate cycles of French romances, and the Alliterative Morte Arthure and Stanzaic Morte Arthur – will be read, and the ways in which Malory combines the two traditions and adapts and add to his sources will be discussed. Malory played an important role in shaping later Arthurian literature. Some of the major works influenced by the Morte, including Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, will also be read. And the adaptation or reinterpretation of the Morte in film, art, and popular culture will be considered. But the central concern of the course will be a reading of the Morte itself.
Description pending. Specific topic to be determined.
Aesthetics, in the philosophical tradition, has included not only formal analyses of beauty and sublimity, of pleasure and pain, and of the nature and function of art but also essentially ethical interrogations of freedom, judgment, and otherness. In this seminar we will read central texts in the Western tradition and more recent works that take aesthetics as their standpoint in considering ethical questions. We will consider work by most of the following: Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Nietzsche, Adorno, Benjamin, Derrida, Kristeva, Levinas, Agamben, Badiou, and others.
Toni Morrison’s essay “Unspeakable things Unspoken” and her volume Playing in the Dark revolutionized the study of American literature. In revealing the “Africanist” presence in the work of white writers, Morrison deconstructed oppositional stances taken in debates about canonicity and created new ways of reading old texts. Using Morrison’s claims as a starting point, this course will analyze the fiction of white writers with a sensitivity for the representations of racial difference in their work. The course will seek to answer the following questions: Is the tradition of American literature a tradition of racial representation? His is blackness figuratively represented? What roles to such “Africanisms” play in the construction of a “white” identity in general and of white masculinity and feministyin particular? Primary readings include Willa Cather’s Sapphira and the Slave Girl, Charles Dixon’s The Clansman, William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner, and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The readings will be supplemented by criticism and theory by Morrison, Anthony Appiah, Richard Dyer, Ralph Ellison, Frantz Fanon, Shelly Fisher Fishkin, Judith Jackson Fossett, George M. Frederickson, Noel Ignatiev, George Lipsitz, Eric Lott, Dana Nelson, Lucius Outlaw, David Roediger, and others. Requirements include class participation, a 10-15 minute in-class presentation, and a 12-15-page seminar paper.
Since Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault proclaimed "the death of the author" in the late 1960s, the subject of authorship has been hotly debated in literary and cultural studies. Rather than being quietly buried, however, "the author" has been given new life and a precise historical dimension in a range of scholarly work in both literature and other disciplines. Looking at such issues as the gendering of authorship, the history of publishing and the literary marketplace, readership and reception history, the institutionalization of authorship in author societies and university curricula, and the effects of the new electronic technologies on the way we think about the processes of artistic creation, this course will explore the rich body of critical work that has recently emerged on the subject of authorship. We will consider both the impact of this work on the reinterpretation of canonical writers and the tools it provides for reading and revaluing forms of authorship that have not readily fit traditionally accepted categories. Course readings will combine critical and theoretical discussions of authorship with attention to particular literary texts (from a wide range of historical periods) that highlight and focus particular issues and problems in conceiving and reconceiving what we once called "the author." Students will be encouraged to design research projects around authors and works of their own choosing.