E 370 • Victorian Prose: Essay and Ideas
12:00 PM-1:00 PM
In this class we will investigate how ideas of the aesthetic become culturally central in late nineteenth-century Britain. We will attempt to establish a genealogy for aestheticism by reading selections of the art-criticism of Ruskin and Pater, alongside poems by C and D. G. Rosetti and Swinburne. We will contrast these "aesthetic" theories of the beautiful to evolutionary ones by reading selections from Darwin's Descent of Man. We will also consider aestheticism in the context of debates around the New Woman and dress reform, interior design and urban-planning. We will also consider aestheticism's part complicit, part antagonistic relation to British imperial expansion by thinking through the relation of the aesthetic to the exotic in selected writings by Wilde, Fitzgerald, Kipling and Burton.
Attendance and class participation are mandatory. More than 2 unexcused absences will result in grade penalties.
2 short response papers: 4 pages each 20%
1 in-class presentation and participation in class discussion 30%
Final research paper 12-15 pages 50%
Reading package - Ruskin, Pater, Swinburne, Rosetti, Darwin, Spencer, Burton
Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, "The Decay of Lying"
The Ruba'yat of Omar Khayam, trans. Fitzgerald