Joann L Kelly
Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.
This course will cover British fiction from the mid-18th to 19th centuries, and take as its theme the social outcast - ranging from conniving criminal outlaws to scandalous women. We will ask how the literature produced during this time-period engaged with the formation of cultural norms that ultimately facilitated England's rise to global superpower by the mid-19th century. Within this context, what did it mean for a person to be figured as too dangerous, morally-problematic, or simply unconventional to be allowed to participate in society? What gender, political, and racial criteria were involved in this transaction? We'll look at the fate of these outcasts - they are often expelled, reformed, or otherwise taken care of - as instructive, considering to what degree literary representation underwrites ideology, and whether intervention is possible. Another question we'll be asking is how the very shape of literature becomes involved in the treatment of these social pariahs; as we'll see, some genres are more accommodating than others. We'll therefore work with a variety of genres, including the realistic and gothic novel, Romantic poetry and non-fiction writing. Required texts: Jonathan Wild, The Italian, Frankenstein and Oliver Twist, as well as a course packet. Course requirements will include group presentations, reading quizzes and active class participation. In order to fulfill the University "W" requirement, students will be asked to write, and revise, two five to seven page papers.
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