Chronological study of literary and media works in English, from beginnings to the present, emphasizing their cultural and historical contexts.
ENG 304, Contexts for Literary/Textual Study, is part of The Foundations of the English Major three-course series (ENG 303, ENG 304, ENG 305). The series introduces students to the discipline of English as it is practiced at the University of Oregon, providing English majors with a common intellectual experience and a foundation for future coursework in literary, media, cultural studies, and folklore.
In Winter term 2021, ENG 304 will address the following questions: What is a context? How do texts and history interact? How do we understand the contexts of reception and re-presentation as well as textual production? We will think about these questions in relation to literary history, intellectual and aesthetic history, political history, and the history of different cultural formations and categories such as art, gender, race, sexuality, class, psychology, human relationships, religion, aesthetics, and materiality. Across the term, the course will demonstrate how histories are, themselves, recovered and created – products of intellectual activity and ideological forces – rather than merely given facts. We will pursue these issues, studying texts chosen from two different time periods—the Medieval and the Nineteenth-Century -- in order to examine the historical forces that contribute to the production of literary and cultural texts as well as their receptions and re-reproductions up to our own historical moment. This historical range of textual production allows us to explore ways different artists, scholars and fields within Anglophone literary and cultural traditions interpret the complex relationship between artistic production and the varieties of historical context. Key texts for Winter 2021 will include The Bayeux Tapestry, the Miller’s Tale, and Frankenstein.