Introduces eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, focusing on representative works that illustrate literary and intellectual developments of the period. Topics include: exploration, empire, colonialism, slavery, revolution, and nation-building. Offered: AWSp.
English 212: (Re)Counting Networks
The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Britain were a period of rapid expansion on all fronts: The 1707 Acts of Union brought Scotland and England together as the United Kingdom, and the railway boom in the mid-nineteenth century allowed citizens and, perhaps more importantly, information to go from one end of Great Britain to the other in a matter of hours. Simultaneously, the Empire itself was expanding, and individual business owners increasingly turned to the financial safety of limited liability companies. As their world became simultaneously bigger and smaller, citizens of Great Britain increasingly sought ways to order the potential overabundance of information by fitting it into schematized networks. In this class, we will look at the literature of the Enlightenment, Romantic, and Victorian eras through the lens of how these texts are used as a way of bringing order to the chaos of pure information, both through narrative structure and an obsession with counting and categorizing.
Student learning goals
To understand both books and readers as culturally-situated and contextualized.
To develop and understanding of the cultural contexts of 18th and 19th century literature.
To develop familiarity with and an appreciation of a broad range of 18th and 19th century texts.
To begin to understand how to make an intervention in critical conversations surrounding works of art.
General method of instruction
Texts may include Frankenstein, The Moonstone, Dracula, and the Haunted House, as well as excerpts from other novels, poetry, and treatises on science, economics, and political theory. Students should expect a heavy reading load, as we will be attempting to fit 200 years into 11 weeks. Assignments and evaluation will consist of a midterm and final exam, periodic reading quizzes, class presentations, and one 5-7 page paper. Please also note that this course will rely heavily on discussion - be prepared to contribute in class every day!
Class assignments and grading