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

Fall 2009

E 314L • Literary Contests and Contexts

Unique Days Time Location Instructor


Course Description

Please refer to the course schedule for course days, time, room location, prerequisites and possible cross-listings:

Literary Islands: Contests and Contexts in British Literature. This course focuses on the unique role of the island in English Literature. We often turn to islands as places that not only challenge us but also allow us to carry out schemes impossible within our own predictable, everyday lives. Similarly, authors writing in English have used islands as sites for formal and aesthetic experimentation in genres such as the adventure novel, autobiography, romance, satire, and science fiction. While island stories encourage formal innovation, they often revolve around a set of common themes, some of which include identity, intersubjectivity, and shared national and group fantasies. The island promises a context separate from the currents of traditional society, yet we will explore ways to situate the island within literary, historical, and cultural developments in England, which Mary Shelley famously referred to as a "sea-surrounded nook, a cloud-enshadowed land, an inconsiderable speck in the immense whole." We will also address fictional islands that contest established views of history and culture. As we negotiate the tension between the formal-aesthetic and literary-historical representations of the British Isles, we will attempt to position England as a tiny island whose citizens influenced and responded to a broader, global context.

The skills and methods taught in this course will help prepare students for success as English majors or in any discipline that emphasizes careful reading, incisive writing, and critical thinking.

Grading Policy

Three five-page essays (20% each); Eight one-page journal assignments (5% each, 40% overall)


William Shakespeare: The Tempest; Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe; H.G. Wells: The Island of Doctor Moreau; Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Herland. Possible Supplementary Texts: Henry Neville: The Isle of Pines, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, Unca Eliza Winkfield, The Female American, Aldous Huxley, The Island, Lord Byron, The Island, Anon., The Dog Crusoe, Sir Thomas More, Utopia, Antonio Benitez-Rojo, The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and Postmodern Perspective


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