This course focuses on fictional constructions of nation in British novels of the nineteenth century. In an era embracing massive imperial expansion and shocked by the memory of European revolutions, British novelists sought to explore national identity within a global context. We will discuss writers’ representations of Europe and empire, considering how these texts reflect anxieties both about “other” nations and the state of Britain itself. We will begin with Jane Austen’s depiction of British life set against a West Indian background in Mansfield Park, and move to the question of empire with Wilkie Collins’ famous detective novel The Moonstone, which figures the 1857 Indian Mutiny as hauntingly absent-yet-present. We will compare the fearful yet alluringly powerful protagonists who emerge from eastern Europe and Africa in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and H. Rider Haggard’s She. Written papers will respond to critical texts read in conjunction with the novels.
Arts & Letters (A&L) courses create meaningful opportunities for students to engage actively in the modes of inquiry that define a discipline. Courses are broad in scope and demonstrably liberal in nature (that is, courses that promote open inquiry from a variety of perspectives). Though some courses may focus on specialized subjects or approaches, there will be a substantial course content locating that subject in the broader context of the major issues of the discipline. Qualifying courses will not focus on teaching basic skills but will require the application or engagement of those skills through analysis and interpretation.
Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history. Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.