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

Fall 2008

E 314L • Literary Contests and Contexts

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34500 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
PAR 308

Course Description

Restricted to Plan I Honor Students

Designed for potential English majors who are already in the Honors I program, this course is directed toward developing and honing critical reading, writing, and research skills while also giving an overview of the critical "toolbox" available to students of literature in the field of English. We will focus on three major fictions from the long eighteenth century (by Defoe, Swift, and Austen) that have each inspired a cluster of later fictional rewritings (often by authors just as renowned, including Coetzee, Bronte, and Gaskell). Thus our reading will loosely track the development of the novel genre over several centuries. We will consider a few film "adaptations" of several texts since these, too, constitute critical and cultural interpretations of a sort. For each central work that we study, we will examine its formalist elements (there will be visits to the HRC to work with original editions), historical contexts, and the cultural contests it has inspired, particularly in the form of rewritings. Secondary criticism will feature a range of approaches, likely including Marxist, Feminist, Psychoanalytic, and Textual Studies.

Grading Policy

Three close-reading essays (3 pages each; 1 rewrite): 50%
One long essay (6 pages): 20%
Class presentation/ written movie review (2 pages): 10%
Class presentation/ annotated bibliography (5 items): 10%
Participation/quizzes: 10%


Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719)
J. M. Coetzee's Foe (1986)
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels (1726), Bks I, II, and IV
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (1847)
Jean Ryss, Wide Sargasso Sea (1993)
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (1854)

Films-- selection of adaptations of the above texts
Criticism packet-- selection of critical essays about Defoe, Swift, and Austen representing a range of critical approaches


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