Ashley Elizabeth Bashaw
Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.
The primary aim of this course is to introduce students to the practice and pleasure of critically reading literature. Our course theme is “The Monstrous Feminine” and our course texts track this theme throughout the 19th century utilizing both American and European literature. To ground our thinking about ‘monstrosity’ we will read two critical pieces: an excerpt from Jeffrey Cohen’s Monster Theory: Reading Culture (1996) and Sigmund Freud’s “The Uncanny” (1919). Other course texts include Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (1818), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), Wilke Collins’s The Woman in White (1859), E.T.A. Hoffman’s “The Sandman” (1816), Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892), and Edgar Allan Poe’s “Morella” (1835). The three novels listed (Dracula, Frankenstein and The Woman in White) are available at the University Bookstore. The other shorter texts are compiled in a course pack located at the Ave Copy Center (4141 University Way NE # 103). By taking on the theme of monstrosity, and specifically that of femininity, this course enables us to consider at least these key questions: What makes a monster? More specifically, what makes the women in these texts “monstrous”? What knowledge about human experience is potentially enabled/disabled by the label “monstrosity”? Our course theme also allows us to situate larger 19th century questions about gender, sexuality, and race. Throughout this course we will use literature to hone our close reading skills, practice our composition, and improve upon our argumentation (both orally via class discussion and written through assigned essays). To that end, students will write two 5-7 page papers with the opportunity to revise based on instructor comments.* Additionally, I will assign quizzes, discussion questions, and reflective in-class and take-home writings in order to support critical reading, thinking, and writing. *This course satisfies the University of Washington’s “W” requirement.
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