5400 Topics in Romantic and Victorian Literature

ENG5400HF    L0101    

Romantic Pastoral Revisited   

Weisman, K.    

Course Description:  

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.

Course Reading List:  

Reading will include selections from Theocritus, Virgil, Milton, and Thomas Gray (for background context).  We will then move on to selected texts by William Wordsworth, Charlotte Smith, John Clare, Percy Shelley and Matthew Arnold.

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:  
Article review (orally delivered) 15%; seminar presentation 25%; class participation 10%; final research paper 50%  

Term: F-TERM (September 2024 to December 2024)
Date/Time: Wednesday 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm (2 hours)
Location:  JHB 616 (except Oct. 30, class is relocated to JHB 718) (170 St. George Street, Jackman Humanities Building)

Delivery: In-Person  

ENG5401HS    L0101    

Aesthetics and Ethics: The Late Victorians

Li, H.   

Course Description:  

This course examines the late Victorians’ intellectual efforts to move beyond mid-Victorian culture. In particular, we will focus on their conception of the relations between ethics and aesthetics, as a paradigm shift away from mid-Victorian ideas of ethics, which were often rational and prescriptive. By analyzing the literary representations of ethos in George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, William Morris, Walter Pater and Oscar Wilde, we will reconstruct a contestatory and subjectivity-based ethics in these writers that was ironic, sensory and counter-factual, a new “higher ethics” (Walter Pater). Issues to be discussed include dialectics of futuristic envisioning, fantasy and utopia, naturalist affect, and feelings as the intellect. 

Course Reading List:  

George Eliot, Daniel Deronda (1876); Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure (1895); William Morris, News from Nowhere (1890); Walter Pater, Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873); and Oscar Wilde, Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). We’ll also read theoretical works by Adorno, Anderson, Badiou, Cavell, Kristeva, Levinas, and Scarry.

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements: 

One seminar presentation (25%); one major essay (55%); informed class participation, including Quercus responses and mini-conference participation (20%). 

Term: S-TERM (January 2025 to April 2025)
Date/Time: Thursday 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm (2 hours)
Location:  UC 57 (15 King's College Circle,
 University College)
Delivery: In-Person