Department of English

University of Toronto

CCR199H1S - L0191

CCR199H1S L0191 T11-1
First Year Seminar: Shipwrecks and Castaways: Disaster at Sea in Literature
Professor Maxwell Uphaus
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Office Location:
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 730

Brief Description of Course: For thousands of years, stories of disaster at sea—narratives of shipwreck and immersion, of survivors in open boats and castaways on desert islands—have been among the most widespread and popular of literary genres. Besides perennially gripping their readers, such stories provide a means of examining the natural and social forces and the ways of thinking and acting that cause seafaring disasters and enable people to cope with them (or not). In addition, these stories raise fundamental questions about the relationship between human beings and the non-human world and the line between humans and animals. In this course, we’ll explore the treatment of such questions in some great literary accounts of disaster at sea. We’ll also ask what these works have to say to us today, at a time when intensifying hurricanes and rising sea levels are making the encounter with the ocean a newly urgent topic.

Required Reading: (subject to change) Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe; Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”; Joseph Conrad, “Amy Foster”; Herman Melville, Moby Dick; Fred D’Aguiar, Feeding the Ghosts; Yann Martel, Life of Pi.

First Three Authors/Texts: (subject to change) Robinson Crusoe; “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”; “Amy Foster.”

Method of Instruction: Seminar.

Method of Evaluation: Class participation, group presentation, short essays, final project.

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