E 314L • Literary Contests and Contexts
8:00 AM-9:30 AM
While this course is designed to prepare students for the English major, it will be of value to almost anyone who wishes to become a critical reader, writer, and thinker.
Frankenstein, Bleak House, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, three major canonical texts of the nineteenth century, are among the most studied works of literature. In this course we will examine these three texts through several "lenses"-that is, we will use various analytical approaches to understand how these texts speak to various disciplines and perspectives. Students will learn to perform close textual analysis, consider a work's literary and historical contexts as well as its production and distribution history, and examine the cultural contests in which the work has been involved and which the work itself creates. Each of these approaches will help students understand how literature both impacts and is influenced by its surrounding contexts and contests. In considering each work's literary and historical context, we will ask questions about each text's publication history, author, readers, literary trends, historical significance, and its place and value in popular culture as well as in the literary/scholarly marketplace today.
We will visit the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center on campus to examine the textual features of the first publication(s) of these texts and will survey criticism of these works. Alongside this textual examination, we will further discuss the recent (2006) film version of Bleak House, and the multiple interpretations of Frankenstein and Huck Finn on film.
In-Class performance (includes discussion, blog posts, topic proposals, and in-class work): 10%
One short paper (2-3 pages): 10%
Response Papers: 25%
Group Research Presentation/Leading Class Discussion: 15 %
Research Paper (3-4 pages): 20%
Final Exam: 20%
Barnett, Sylvan and William E. Cain, A Short Guide to Writing About Literature, 10th ed.
Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein.
Dickens, Charles, Bleak House.
Twain, Mark, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.