ENGL 292 - Topics in British Literature
Prerequisite: Completion of the FW requirement. British literature, supported by attention to historical and cultural contexts. Versions of this course may survey several periods or concentrate on a group of works from a short span of time or focus on a cultural phenomenon. Students develop their analytical writing skills through both short papers and a final multisource research paper. May be repeated for degree credit and for the major if the topics are different.
Spring 2019, ENGL 292-01: A Monstrous Creation: Frankenstein and Its Intertexts (3). Much like the creature who haunts its pages, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is itself an assemblage of parts. Drawing on numerous literary and philosophical precedents, Shelley’s groundbreaking novel is at once deeply familiar and shockingly new. Placing Frankenstein at its center, this seminar begins with texts that Shelley invokes–including Paradise Lost, Prometheus, Rousseau, and Coleridge, among others–and ends with texts that she inspires. We consider the common mythology, questions, and concerns that all of these texts share, and also the nature of literary allusion, homage, and adaptation. Why does the Genesis story remain so central to the Western literary tradition? Why is Shelley’s creature an especially compelling representation of humankind’s fallen condition? Why does Shelley’s novel continue to resonate with modern audiences, 200 years after its publication? How does the figure of the monster evolve from Milton’s Satan to Dick’s Android? Students cultivate critical thinking and close reading through class discussion, and then deploy these same skills in a series of analytical writing assignments. (HL) Walle.
Fall 2018, ENGL 292A-01: Topics in British Literature: All About Eve (3). Heavy hangs the head of the first woman. From Genesis to the femmes fatales of film noir, the figure of Eve—cunning, seductive, and treacherous—is arguably the most powerful and enduring image of woman in Western literature. Eve’s story and its permutations encapsulate several fundamental dilemmas in the representation of women, from Milton to the present day. Does a woman’s sexuality make her blameworthy? Does her influence make her dangerous? Does her “disobedience” make her criminal? Looking at a variety of media—novels, poetry, graphic novels, and film—this course examines shifting portrayals of Eve and her implications for womanhood and female sexuality. Anchoring our conversation in Genesis and Milton, and then moving to Shelley, Hardy, Carter, and others, we consider what each era’s version of Eve reveals about the perception of women, whether the depiction of Eve changes over time, and how Eve’s legacy of guilt and temptation informs modern discussions of femininity. (HL) Walle.
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