Department of English

University of Toronto


Romantic Pastoral Revisited
K. Weisman

Pastoral has long been a subject close to the centre of studies of British Romanticism. It has been absorbed into all of the major theoretical debates: from linguistic theories studying it as a forum for textual displacement, to historicist readings of pastoral that study its mediations of history and commodity culture, and more recently to eco-criticisms that read pastoral in terms of the economy of ecological and global considerations. Pastoral, and the georgic pastoral, have always been indispensable value terms in our understanding of the period. And yet pastoral, for all of its vital importance, is a term that still causes confusion, or that is sometimes used as a casual synonym for “landscape.” This course will study the old subject of Romantic pastoral anew. We will study its variable definitions, the lively debates, both historical and contemporary, surrounding it, and the many crucial points of contact it makes with key issues in Romantic poetry. These include its inextricable relationship with elegy and other genres, and the central place played by pastoral in Romantic political, philosophical and social culture.

Primary Reading:

Readings will include selections from historical sources, including Virgil, Hesiod, Theocritus, Spenser, Sidney, Milton, Pope, Addison and others. Primary reading in poetry will be drawn from Crabbe, C. Smith, W. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Barbauld, P.B. Shelley, Clare, Keats, Landon.

Method of evaluation:
Oral book report 15%; seminar presentation 25%; class participation 15%; final research paper 45%

Tuesday 1 – 3 pm 
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 617
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

Romanticism: Local and Global
D. White

From the "wild green landscape" of Wordsworth's Lake District and the enclosed commons of John Clare's Helpston to Byron's "deep and dark blue ocean" and the infinite world of Blake's grain of sand, the scale of Romantic writing ranges from an intense interest in the local to an expansive embrace of the global. In recent years, historicist critics have increasingly tried to understand Romantic literature as part of a transoceanic imperial culture in circulation. At the same time, among the most exciting developments within colonial and postcolonial studies has been the concerted effort to see beyond the terms of modular nationalism in the definition of national cultures under conditions of early globalization. In this course, we will begin with the premise that the local and the global interpenetrate. Addressing theories of space, time, cosmopolitanism, and modernity, we will bring our attention to bear on Romantic poetry and prose that imagines the global in the local and engages with the interactions between local lives, lands, commodities, and temporalities that constitute the global. We will read canonical works along with those of lesser-known figures in India who wrote for audiences in both Calcutta and London.

Reading List (readings will include but not be limited to the following):
Blake, America
Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads
Clare, the Helpston poems
Byron, Don Juan
P. B. Shelley, Prometheus Unbound
Mary Shelley, The Last Man
Poetry and prose from The Bengal Annual and The Orient Pearl by Henry Derozio, Kasiprasad Ghosh, Emma Roberts, Henry Meredith Parker, and David Lester Richardson

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements
Research paper (50%, 20 pp.), abstract and bibliography (10%), mini-conference presentation (20%, 15 minutes followed by q & a), class participation (20%).

Tuesday 3 – 6 pm 
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 617
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

The Literary Scene of the 1820s
A. Esterhammer

In this seminar we will take a new look at the intriguing literary forms and themes that arose during the 1820s, an era that in many ways defies traditional period categories such as “Romantic” and “Victorian.” Manifesting a remarkable self-consciousness about being in the midst of change and transition, writers of this decade experiment with hybrid genres, often influenced by new textual and visual media that encouraged different ways of reading, seeing, and consuming. We will use Bourdieu’s concept of the literary field together with recent research on early-nineteenth-century print culture to delineate the parameters of literary culture during the 1820s – its institutions, markets, and reading practices. Primary texts will explore a number of interrelated themes: speculation (in multiple senses ranging from ‘observation’ to ‘financial risk-taking’ to Gothic-inspired speculative fiction); performativity and theatricality; personal identity, identity-construction, and doubles or doppelgänger. Authors to be studied include Keats, Byron, Mary Shelley, Hemans, Landon, Mitford, Scott, Hogg, and Galt. We will contextualize their poetry and fiction with archival research into the magazines and periodicals that played a dominant role in the literary scene of the 1820s, and with recent work on visual culture, consumerism, and fashion that is now bringing the 1820s into prominence as a key era in the transition to modernity.

Course requirements: research essay (50%), short assignments (partly oral, partly written) on periodical literature (30%), informed participation (20%).

Thursday – 9 – 11 am
Jackman Humanities Building, Room JHB 617.
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

Rereading Victorian Realism
A. Jaffe

This class will take a concentrated look at key conventions of Victorian realist representation in the novel, with the aim of both revisiting traditional understandings of these conventions, discussing revisionary approaches to them, and seeking out new ones for consideration. What does the realist novel “do” or “say” that criticism has left relatively undiscussed? How might readings of familiar conventions be revised in light of recent theories about (for example) gender, place, affect, history? Topics to be discussed will include: realist representation and the historical real; visual and documentary realism; realism and “thing theory”; realism and ideology.

Reading list (tentative): Eliot, Adam Bede; Gaskell, Mary Barton; Dickens, Hard Times; Hardy, Jude the Obscure. Critical and theoretical readings by (among others) Barthes, Belsey, Gallagher, D.A. Miller, William Cohen, Kent Puckett.

Books will be ordered from the Bob Miller Book Room (180 Bloor Street West, 416-922-3557); check toward the end of summer for final book list.

Evaluation: Presentations, 20%; participation, 20%; final essay, 60%.

Tuesday 4 – 6 pm
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 614
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

Marxism and the American Renaissance
P. Downes

*Note revised Course Description and Book List (Aug. 9, 2012)

Marx analyzed a "state of society in which the process of production has the mastery over man.” At about the same time, Emerson was lamenting that ''Things are in the saddle and ride mankind." In this course we will read works by major figures in the American renaissance (Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Whitman, Douglass, Poe and others) in conjunction with writings from roughly the same period by Karl Marx ("The German Ideology," Capital, "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,'' Communist Manifesto). We may supplement this reading with excerpts from some recent examples of Marxist political philosophy (Jameson, Balibar, Derrida, Zizek, Spivak, for example). We will be considering, on a general level, the relationship between nineteenth-century American and Marxist critiques of capitalism, and we will be looking for points of convergence in these writers' approaches to questions concerning commodification, the mass market, slavery, democracy, the charisma of political leaders and the mid-century revolutions in Europe.

Primary texts (available from the Bob Miller Bookroom on Bloor Street): McLellan, David. Karl Marx: Selected Writings. New York: Oxford UP, 2000. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Essays and Poems. New York: Library of America, 1996. Melville, Herman. Moby Dick. New York: Penguin, 2003. Thoreau, Henry David. Walden, The Maine Woods, and Collected Essays and Poems. New York: Library of America, 2007. Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass. New York: Penguin, 1986.  Davis, Rebecca Harding. Life in the Iron Mills and Other Stories. New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY, 1985.

Course Requirements: Essay: 60%. Presentation: 30%. Essay Outline: 10%.

Monday 1 – 3 pm
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 718
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

George Eliot
H. Li

Course Description
The works of George Eliot engage with a wide range of issues in her time. In this course, we shall read her major novels both in the generic tradition of the English novel and in relation to her concern with literary style and with cultural issues such as subjectivity, the unconscious, scientific imagination, politics of reform, and national consciousness.

Text List
Primary: Adam Bede. Oxford: OUP, 1996. The Mill on the Floss. Oxford: OUP, 1996, Felix Holt. Oxford: OUP, 1988. Middlemarch. Oxford: OUP, 1997. Daniel Deronda. Oxford: OUP, 1998. Selected Critical Writings. Ed. Rosemary Ashton. Oxford: OUP, 1992.

Method of Evaluation
Two Seminar Presentations 2 x 20% 40%
One Research Essay 40%
Informed Participation 20%

Monday 1 – 3 pm
Location SS 2115 
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

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