E f316K • Masterworks of Literature: British
2:30 PM-4:00 PM
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.
A. Four 3-page essays. I will allow one rewrite, which, however, must be substantial in order to count. You may not rewrite the last essay.
B. The University requires you to attend all classes. Ill permit three absences. If you do miss a class, you are responsible for finding out what went on that day, for getting hold of somebody elses in-class notes, etc.
C. It is paramount that you do the assigned reading on time.
Four essays 22% each: 88%
Contribution to class discussion 12%
Should you choose to rewrite one of your essays, your grade on the rewrite simply substitutes for your previous grade and counts as the final grade
Major works to be examined include:
Norton Anthology of English Literature, 6th ed. (Norton)
Shakespeare, The Tempest
Milton, Paradise Lost
Coleridge, Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Note: those last two novels notwithstanding, this course involves extensive reading and analysis of poetry.