E 379S • Senior Seminar
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
E 370W, The Brontes: Self and Society, may not also be counted.
This course will critically examine the literary outpourings of the Bronte sisters, comparing and contrasting their works from a variety of different viewpoints. We will begin by studying the two most popular novels, Emily's Wuthering Heights and Charlotte's Jane Eyre (we will see film versions of these two classics as well). Then we will move on to Anne's Tennant of Wildfell Hall, which should illustrate some of the strengths and weaknesses of the story-telling impulse. Finally, we will read Villette, adjudged by many modern critics as Charlotte's masterpiece, and Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. At each point, we will try on different readings of the novels, primarliy psychological (sometimes auto-biographical and hence likely to be family systems oriented), Marxist, and feminist.
The course will conclude with a series of oral reports based on independent reading: each student will select for study a complete work or collection by or about the Brontes and relate it to the overall concerns of the course. Representative "works" include: primary readings--poetry by Emily, Charlotte, and/or Anne; reprinted juvenilia (many of the originals are here at UT's Humanities Research Center); Anne's Agnes Grey; Charlotte's Professor or the unfinished Emma (both published posthumously) or her "historical" novel, Shirley; the poetry and/or sermons of their father, the Reverend Patrick Bronte; possible sources in the Romantic poets and journals such as Blackwood's and Fraser's; secondary readings--the controversy surrounding Elizabeth Gaskell's "life" of Charlotte; various other biographical accountings of the sisters and their unpublished (in his lifetime) brother, Branwell; recent critical/theoretical studies, such as Helene Moglen's Charlotte Bronte: The Self Conceived, Terry Eagleton's Myths of Power: A Marxist Study of the Brontes, Robert Keefe's Charlotte Bronte's World of Death, Cynthia A. Linder's Romantic Imagery in the Novels of Charlotte Bronte, and Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar's Madwoman in the Attic.
N.B. The Brontes and their creations have acquired an almost mythical status in the Anglo-American literary tradition. As a result, they can also be studied through a fascinating array of works for which they apparently served as "models." Our extended reading list may well include another title such as May Sinclair's The Three Sisters, Rachel Ferguson's The Brontes Went to Woolworths, Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca, and Robert Barnard's The Case of the Missing Bronte.
Two short papers (3-5 pages each) 20% each
One seminar paper (10-12 pages) 35%
Two oral reports (5-10 minutes), regular attendance, in-class writing, and active participation in class discussion 25%