Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
english masthead
english masthead
Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2007

E 324 • Literary Marriages from Hell

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34420 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM

Course Description

Will Not Count Toward a Major in English!

Scott & Zelda, Tom & Viv, Sylvia & Ted--
The personal lives of authors nearly always find their ways into their works and none more so than in the case of these three pairs of star-crossed marriages: the Fitzgeralds, the Eliots, and the Hughes. Out of the ashes of their tortured marriages and private agonies rose some literary masterpieces and many enduring works. We will use the tools of biography, memoir, letters, and above all, the words of the principals, both in their creative and private lives, to decipher and explicate some of the major texts of the twentieth century. For F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, we will read Scott's Tender is the Night (and some selected pieces from Scott's The Crack-Up and Zelda's Save Me the Waltz). We will see an A & E "Tortured Artists Series" documentary about Scott and Zelda, F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great American Dreamer. With the Eliots we will focus on that most personal of "impersonal poems," The Waste Land. We will also view the film Tom and Viv. In the case of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes we will read Plath's poetry and selections from her journals and her novel, The Bell Jar. We will read Hughes's last collection of poetry, Birthday Letters, a belated response to the tragic end of their marriage and of Plath's life. And we will see the recent film Sylvia, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig portraying Plath and Hughes. Both the literature and behind-the-scenes material are amazingingly haunting and unforgettable documents that testify to the professional and private angst in the bid to join the literary pantheon.

Grading Policy

Quizzes and Class Participation 20%
Mid-Term Exam 25%
Essay 25%
Final Exam 30%


T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land and Other Poems
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night
Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters
Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems; The Bell Jar


bottom border