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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2007

E 316K • Masterworks of Literature: British (34160-34215)

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34160 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
ART 1.102

Course Description

What is the role of tradition in British Literature? How does it operate to both generate and resist creative change, how does it shape the meanings of particular literary works, and in what sense can we say that some works exist "outside" the tradition? It is something of a paradox that writers develop their authorial identity by revisiting the works of their predecessors: the tradition authorizes the very attempt to alter it. Thus, as T. S. Eliot observed, the masterworks of literature collectively form an ideal order that must nevertheless become changed through the addition of new "Individual talent." Or as another great Modern anglophile, Jorge Luis Borges, put it: "every writer creates his own precursors." This survey course views British literary tradition as, not a fixed chain of monuments, but a negative feedback loop in which a handful of enduring themes and ideas are reworked and transformed.

Note: This course involves extensive reading and analysis of poetry.

Grading Policy

Two 50-minute tests in discussion section, two half-term exams (no final; the second half-term is on the last class day).
The University requires you to attend all classes. I'll permit three absences. If you do miss a class, you are responsible for finding out what went on that day and obtaining copies of any materials distributed.
It is crucial that you do the assigned reading on time.

Two tests 17.5% each
Two half-term exams 25% each
Contribution to discussion section 15%


Norton Anthology of English Literature: Major Authors, 7th ed. (Norton)
James Hogg, Private Memoir and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, ed. Hunter (Broadview)
Shakespeare, Tempest
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Some additional major works to be examined include:
Milton, Paradise Lost
Coleridge, Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Conrad, Heart of Darkness


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