The English Department Honors Program gives our majors scope, during their senior year, for especially intense and independent work in English literature and language. The program begins in the fall semester with an Honors Seminar, limited to about fifteen students; all honors students are required to enroll in this seminar. In the spring semester, each student completes an honors thesis, a text written on a topic of their own choosing. The thesis is ordinarily an extended scholarly or critical essay, but majors in creative writing can submit extended work in prose or poetry as their thesis. While the fall seminar is intended to prepare and focus students for the in-depth work of writing an honors thesis, the possible topics for theses need in no way be bound to the seminar topic. Theses and creative manuscripts in the past have included "Seventeenth-Century Religious Poetry," "Star Wars," "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," "Angela Carter," "Ralph Waldo Emerson and Cultural Critique," "Motion: A Collection of Short Stories," and "Twelve Angry Wimmin: A One-Act Play" that was produced. All junior English majors are invited to apply.
Application forms are available in the English Department office, Morey 426. You may also download the application here or complete the application online. Completed applications must be returned to the English Department no later than Thursday February 20. If you have any questions whatsoever about the seminar, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Instructor: Gross, K.
The course will examine a tradition of writings which center around troubled fictions of childhood, in particular works that explore the figure of the dangerous or haunted child, the child whose fascination comes from a strange jointure of innocence and knowledge, vulnerability and power. Emerging especially out of the literature of Romanticism, with its re-evaluation of the nature of childhood, and the buried, unconscious, or early aspects of the human mind more generally, the line of such texts continues strongly into modernity. The reading list will include William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, poems from William Wordsworth Lyrical Ballads, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Henry James’s The Turn of the S crew, Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, J. M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, Faulkner’s “The Old People” from Go Down, M oses, Richard Hughes’s High Wind in Jamaica, and Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker. Also included will be short fiction by E. T. A. Hoffmann, Franza Kafka, Bruno Schulz, and Jorge Luis Borges, and some Edwardian “fairy stories” by George MacDonald and Charles Kingsley, as well as poems by Edward Lear, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Elizabeth Bishop. Many of these works are clearly written for adults, but others gain their force and fascination by straddling an ambiguous threshold between adult and children's literature, or by inviting adult and childhood voices and perspectives to cross (and cross-pollinate) in various ways. The books shift between examples of psychological realism and versions of fantasy; many are unnerving in their representations of both physical violence and explicit or concealed eroticism. There are often powerful elements of satire at work as well, as in Carroll’s and Collodi’s works. These books are concerned with the residues of childhood that we all carry into adult life, including the seriousness of play. They also explore of what it might mean (playing on the phrase of St. Paul) to put away the wrong childish things. The seminar would include secondary reading by Freud, Melanie Klein, Philippe Aries, and others.