ROMANTIC ELEGY: THE FORMALISM OF LOSS
This course will study elegy and elegiac poetry of the Romantic period, giving special attention to the cultural, social and ideological implications of poetic experimentation in form and genre. For many writers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century, elegy establishes a forum for exploring the conditions of subjectivity. It also complicates such exploration, however, and so many such efforts become negotiations of the reciprocal relationship between the forms of expression and self-identity. Study of the Romantic elegy naturally opens also onto questions about the limits of lyric and the function of the aesthetic. Students will thus have opportunity to study the minutiae of poetic structure within broader cultural and conceptual frameworks. Some prior knowledge of (or willingness to acquire knowledge of) poetic form is highly recommended.
Poets studied will include (but will not be limited to) the following: William Wordsworth, Charlotte Smith, S.T. Coleridge, Anna Barbauld, John Keats, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Letitia Landon.
Seminar/discussion. Seminar paper, term paper, oral book report.
Date & Time: Tuesday,** 1 pm – 3 pm **
Room: JHB 614,** Jackman Humanities Building
** NOTE: NEW DATE, TIME and ROOM CHANGE
ETHICS AND THE MODALITIES OF VICTORIAN INTELLECTUAL DISCOURSE
Recent literary and cultural studies have witnessed an intense interest in “the turn to ethics.” In this course, we shall focus on the historical period when the ethical was increasingly becoming a self-reflexive and general condition for intellectual discourse. We shall explore how the formation of such a condition may be brought to bear on some of the central problems of current ethical theories. Victorian intellectual debates were distinguished by a wide range of discursive modes, such as the oracular, the confessional, the judicial, the fiduciary, the affective and the dialectical. The writings of Carlyle, Matthew Arnold, J.S. Mill, Walter Pater, among others, demonstrate how ethical imperatives and the modalities of critical discourse determine each other. The discursive value of these writings far exceeds what a conventional notion of ethics may capture. Since it is often against such a notion that contemporary thinkers (both continental and Anglo-American) articulate their own ethical theories, we shall read the Victorian works through and against these theories to achieve a mutual illumination of the two historical periods and their intrinsic problematics. This course is also designed as an introduction to Victorian non-fictional prose.
Arnold, Matthew. Culture and Anarchy. 1869. Ed. Stefan Collini. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993.
Carlyle, Thomas. Past and Present. 1843. Ed. Richard Altick. New York: New York UP, 1977.
Eliot, George. “The Natural History of German Life.” Westminster Review. 66 (July, 1856). 51-79. (course pack)
---. “Debasing the Moral Currency.” 1879. Selected Essays, Poems and Other Writings. Eds. A. S. Byatt and Nicholas Warren. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990. 437-42. (course pack)
Mill, J.S. “On Liberty” and Other Writings. Ed. Stefan Collini. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989. (On Liberty 1859.)
Newman, John Henry. [The Newman-Kingsley Debate]. Apologia Pro Vita Sua. 1864. Ed. David J. DeLaura. New York: Norton, 1968. 297-362. (course pack)
Pater, Walter. The Renaissance. 1873. Ed. Adam Phillips. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986.
A course pack is also requried.
Date & Time: Wednesday 11am – 1 pm
Room: RW 141 (Note room added)
SOCIALITY AND ITS DISCONTENTS: THE SOCIAL AND THE ANTI-SOCIAL IN THE VICTORIAN NOVEL
In recent years, critics have turned away from the long-standing assumption that Victorian fiction projects positive social values (sympathy, communality, insight into the workings of others' minds) and toward an exploration of the bad, "ugly," and isolating feelings the novel represents and possibly incites (shame, disgust, hatred, and anti-sociality in general). Do novels make us better people, or simply allow us to hide our anti-social tendencies behind a book? This class will take up the construction of the social and the anti-social in the Victorian novel, its readers, and its critics, unpacking the assumptions that underlie the construction of this emotional opposition and the feelings that fuel it. Readings will include novels, criticism, and readings in emotions/affect theory.
Reading List (tentative): Brontë, Jane Eyre and Villette; Eliot, Silas Marner and The Lifted Veil; Hardy, The Return of the Native; Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Critics and theorists include (also tentatively) Darwin, Scheler, Sianne Ngai, Christopher Lane, Suzanne Keene.
Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements: Class participation, including presentations (group and individual) 40%; seminar paper 60%.
Date & Time: Tuesday 1 – 3 pm
Room: JHB 614, Jackman Humanities Building