Courses in British Studies, 2012 - 2013
British Studies course listing for the academic year 2012-2013.
Hitchcock: The Language of Narrative Desire (Spring 2013)
No single filmmaker has equaled Alfred Hitchcock’s combination of popular success, critical commentary and widespread influence on other filmmakers. Currently, his work is so familiar it threatens to be taken for granted. This course will reveal Hitchcock as the filmmaker who systematically used the stylistics of late silent film to forge a dialectical approach to the so-called Classical Style. Hitchcock devised a relation among narrative, spectator and character point of view, yielding a configuration of suspense, sensation and perception. Tracing Hitchcock’s career chronologically, we will follow his intertwining of sexual desire and gender politics, and his reshaping of melodrama according to Freudian concepts of repression, memory, interpretation and abreaction, as he navigates from silent film to sound and from Great Britain to Hollywood. Students must have taken Introduction to Film, and preferably Film History 1.
Medieval Vernacular Literature in the British Isles (Autumn 2012)
This course will cover the Celtic tradition, Old an Middle English, Anglo-Norman French, and a late text from Scotland. Texts will include: from Old English, Beowulf; from Irish, The Battle of Moytura (a battle between gods and giants), the Tain, and two of the immrana or voyages, those concerning Bran Son of Ferbal and Mael Duin (the latter being the likely source for the Voyage of St.
Shakespeare: The Roman and Greek Plays (Autumn 2012)
Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies tend to be based on stories located in the legendary past of Great Britain and Scandinavia (Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth) or in more or less contemporary Italy (Romeo and Juliet, Othello). Throughout his writing career, on the other hand, Shakespeare continued to be fascinated by the strikingly different world of ancient Greece and Rome: Titus Andronicus, Troilus and Cressida, Julius Caesar, Timon of Athens, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus.
British Women Writers, 1660-1800 (Autumn 2012)
In this course, we will survey some of the daring and diverse productions of British women writers in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, all of which defy easy categorization. Over the course of the quarter, we will encounter works about desire, sexual failure, and female libertines, about revolutionary politics and the private scandals of public figures, about traveling in Turkey and the slavery of marriage, about utopian female communities and the possibility of self-moving matter.
London: Place of Desire: Poetry and Drama in the 1590s (Autumn 2012)
London Program: Oscar Wilde’s London (Autumn 2012)
London: World London vs Albion Village: London in Contemporary Literature (Autumn 2012)
Encountering London: Place, Voice, City (Autumn 2012)
Reading William Blake (Autumn 2012)
This course explores the visual and verbal aspects of William Blake’s major works and responds to the difficulty of reading Blake by developing a set of self-reflexive theoretical methods. The experience of reading is central to this course: close reading, slow reading, reading attuned to the ‘minute particular’.
George Bernard Shaw (Autumn 2012)
As the most prominent British dramatist of the early 20th century, Shaw transformed the Victorian stage with witty, unsentimental, politically-engaged plays addressing major social issues. We will explore his works through texts, films, and in performance; supplementary readings from contemporary writers (Wilde, Ibsen) and Shaw’s essays will help contextualize his “drama of ideas” and its unique blend of comedy and manifesto.
Medieval English Literature (Winter 2013)
This course examines the relations among psychology, ethics, and social theory in fourteenth-century English literature. We pay particular attention to three central preoccupations of the period: sex, the human body, and the ambition of ethical perfection. Readings are drawn from Chaucer, Langland, the Gawain-poet, Gower, penitential literature, and saints' lives. There are also some supplementary readings in the social history of late medieval England.
Shakespeare I: Histories and Comedies (Winter 2013)
We will consider several of Shakespeare's major histories and comedies from the 1590’s, roughly the first half of his professional career. These will include, among others, Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night.
Milton (Winter 2013)
This course will follow Milton's career as a poet and, to some extent, as a writer of polemical prose. It will concentrate on his sense of his own vocation as a poet and as an active and committed Protestant citizen in times of revolution and reaction. Works to be read include the Nativity Ode, selected sonnets, A Mask, Lycidas, The Reason of Church Government, selections from the divorce tracts, Areopagitica, Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes, and Paradise Regained. There will be a mid-term exercise and a final paper.
British Romantic Poetry: Situating Consciousness (Winter 2013)
The Romantic period (1789-1832) saw major upheavals--revolutions and war--and ongoing reconsideration of the relationship between church and state, writers and reading public. We'll read poetry by William Wordsworth, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Amelia Opie, and John Keats to look at the ways these poets situated themselves.
The Victorian Novel (Winter 2013)
This is a course that considers the Victorian novel within the broader history and theory of the novel form, its function within Victorian society, and its dialogue with other forms of cultural representation during the period. We will read novels or novellas by Dickens, Gaskell, Bronte, Eliot, Trollope, and Hardy, and, at the end of the quarter, consider the continuing impact of the Victorian multiplot novel on contemporary writing.
Henry James and the Sense of the Past (Winter 2013)
This course will examine time-travel as it is effected, as well as staged, by the fiction of Henry James, culminating in a study of his final, unfinished novel. Rather than merely attempting to historicize his oeuvre, we will focus on the peculiar conception of history the author’s notion of a “visitable past” (always conversant with the “accent of the…future”) affords.
British Romantic Poetry (Winter 2013)
History and Fiction in 19th-Century Britain (Winter 2013)
This course will explore the relations of history and fiction in nineteenth-century Britain. Topics will include nineteenth-century conceptions of history, especially with respect to the construction of a national history and representations of the French Revolution; the nature of historical fiction; and general questions about the historicity of fiction, the fictionality of history, and problems of narrative, texture, and textuality.
Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales (Spring 2013)
C. von Nolcken
We examine Chaucer’s art as revealed in selections from The Canterbury Tales. Our primary emphasis is on a close reading of individual tales, although we also pay attention to Chaucer’s sources and to other medieval works providing relevant background.
Shakespeare II: Tragedies and Romances (Spring 2013)
This course will study the second half of Shakespeare's career, from 1600 to 1611, when the major genres that he worked in were tragedy and "romance" or tragicomedy. Plays to be read will include: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear (quarto and folio versions), Macbeth, Coriolanus, Antony and Cleopatra, Pericles, The Winter's Tale, and The Tempest. There will be one short and one longer paper. Section attendance is required.
Hamlet and Critical Methods (Spring 2013)
Shakespeare's Hamlet has probably inspired the most criticism of any play in world literature, and it has certainly inspired some of the greatest criticism. This course explores the goals, presuppositions, strengths, and limitations of different kinds of scholarship and criticism by focusing upon the variety of approaches that have been (or in some cases, could be) applied to Shakespeare's play.
Writing Lives: The Spirit of Biography in 18th-Century Britain (Spring 2013)
Explores representations of private life in eighteenth-century British literature, focusing primarily on poetry and non-novelistic prose (such as diaries, private and public letters, and biographical sketches). We will investigate the emergence—and the convergence—of two categories very much up for grabs during this period: the person and the author.
British Literary Traditions: Romanticism to Modernism (Spring 2013)
This writing intensive course has two objectives: 1) to teach students how to write argumentative papers that use close readings of literary texts to make and support arguments; 2) to provide a chronological survey of important, representative, and (hopefully) enjoyable British works from Romanticism to the modern period.
India in English (Spring 2013)
This course examines the emergence of India as a theme in twentieth-century English fiction. We will consider a representative sample of texts, both fictional and non fictional, written about India by Indian and non-Indian writers. The subject will examine the historical contexts for the India-England connection, especially the impact of British imperialism. Elements of postcolonial theory will be brought to bear upon specific textual study.
The Literature of Empire, 1750-1900
This course considers the place of literature, broadly construed, in the imperial imagination of the British and French empires. Our range of interests will be broad enough to include, for example: historical narratives of imperial expansion and national consolidation; representations of race and slavery; the relationship of literary representations to political debates over conquest, slavery, imperial trading companies, and global commerce; and attempts in poetry and prose to represent personal experiences, or the “inner life,” of empires.
Donne and Herbert (Spring 2013)
This course will study the moment when the devotional lyric comes to fruition in England. There is no doubt that George Herbert is the master devotional poet of the early modern period in England, and that he remains the most influential religious poet in the language. The course will treat Donne as the forerunner who helped make Herbert's achievement possible -- just as, in a parallel but earlier movement in love poetry (knowledge of which the course will assume), Sidney's love poetry helped make Donne's possible.
Modern Britain 1688-1901 (Autumn 2012)
F. Albritton Jonsson
This upper level survey course considers the vexed question of Britain s modernity. Why and how did this island nation on the periphery of Europe evolve into the first industrial nation and a global empire? Through primary sources and case studies we will track the transformation of British society between the Glorious Revolution and the death of Queen Victoria. Major themes include state building, empire, environment, political economy, industrialization, and class formation. Readings will include texts by Pincus, Brewer, Thompson, and Wrigley.
Darwin's "Origin of Species" and "Descent of Man" (Autumn 2012)
This lecture-discussion class will focus on a close reading of Darwin's two classic texts. An initial class or two will explore the state of biology prior to Darwin's Beagle Voyage, and then consider the development of his theories before 1859. Then we will turn to his two books. Among the topics of central concern will be: the logical, epistemological, and rhetorical status of Darwin's several theories, especially his evolutionary ethics; the religious foundations of his ideas and the religious reaction to them; and the social-political consequences of his accomplishment. 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th of the publication of the "Origin."
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