Independent

Narrative Odysseys: Maritime Literature, Frontier Romance and Global Modernity from Camoes to Coetzee

Fall 2015

While we will begin with a genealogy of forms drawn from the Renaissance (The Lusiads, The Tempest), readings will focus primarily on the 18th- and 19th-century Anglo-American tradition from Smollett to Woolf by way of Melville, Twain, Stevenson, and Conrad, culminating in an excursion into the reaches below The Line with Verne and Coetzee. Supplemental readings in poetry will be available as appropriate, with a running undercurrent of Byron, who was the great Romantic poet of the sea, and Elizabeth Bishop. In the visual arts, we will examine the late-period seascapes of the Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner and perhaps a handful of films.

For a full description of the course, click here.

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Narrative Odysseys: Oceanic Literature and Political Anthropology from Homer to Ghosh 

Spring 2014

While we begin with a genealogy of forms drawn from classical literature (the Odyssey, the Argonautika), readings will focus primarily on the 18th- and 19th-century Anglo-American tradition from Defoe to Conrad by way of Irving, Melville, Stevenson, Wells, and, depending on student interest, either Jules Verne or Amitav Ghosh. Supplemental readings in poetry will be available as appropriate, with a running undercurrent of Byron, who was the great Romantic poet of the sea, and Elizabeth Bishop. In the visual arts, we will examine the late-period seascapes of the Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner.

For a full description of the course, click here.

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Reading Against the Glass: Adventures in the Novel from Cervantes to Rushdie

Spring 2012

Cervantes’s Don Quixote exerts a renewed and increasingly powerful influence on British writers starting in the eighteenth century, and we will examine three of the novelistic genres in which the shadow of the Don is particularly pronounced: comedy, romance, and the eccentric or parodic anti-novel. Authors, drawn primarily from the period 1760-1850, will include Sterne, Scott, Hogg, de Quincey and Dickens. This trajectory will be framed by the fantastic tales of Borges and the magical realism of Rushdie, two interrelated movements in twentieth-century cosmopolitan literature that are also deeply informed by and indebted to Cervantes and the romance tradition he spawned in English; together, they make a powerful case that the unreal and improbable can often be more profoundly “real” or “true” than bare reality.

For a full description of the course, click here.

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Reading Against the Glass: Adventures in the Novel from Cervantes to Marquez

Spring 2011

This course aims to construct an alternate history of the British novel under the sign of Don Quixote. Standard accounts of the “rise of the novel” in English often trace its development in parallel with certain philosophical and economic trends that culminate in the nineteenth-century with the middle class reading public; this narrative is inevitably tied to an aesthetic of realism whose leading advocates and practitioners constitute the canon of the English novel from Defoe and Richardson to Eliot and James via Austen. There is, however, an equally compelling—at times far more popular—countertradition that defines itself precisely though its resistance to the strictures of realism; it is a tradition that embraces the principle of fictionality in its complex dialectic with the “real.” Authors, drawn primarily from the period 1760-1870, will include Sterne, Scott, Dickens and Carroll. This trajectory will be framed by the fantastic tales of Borges and the magical realism of Marquez.

For a full description of the course, click here.