E 324 • Fantastic Metamorphoses
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
From "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and the shape-shifters of classical mythology, to the music videos of Chris Cunningham and works of contemporary science fiction, magical metamorphosis has been used to represent everything from the movement of history to the fragmentation of identity to the onset of adolescence. In this class, we will read a number of texts that describe startling, miraculous, horrifying, ridiculous, uncanny, or revelatory bodily transformations, and consider why the idea of a drastic change of form holds such enduring interest. Beginning with a number of Ovid's classic myths in the Metamorphoses, and continuing through modern narratives by Nikolai Gogol, Robert Louis Stevenson, Franz Kafka, Angela Carter, Julio Cortzar, Philip Roth and others, we will investigate both how metamorphosis expresses perennial concerns about the relationship between fixity and flux, and how it lends itself to expressing preoccupations specific to a particular culture or historical moment.
Attendance and participation: 20%
3-5-page paper: 25%
7-8-page paper: 35%
Final exam: 20%