English 364A/003 19th Century Studies (3 credits)
Instructor: Dr. Gisèle M. Baxter
This Section: Making Monsters
“Art, like Nature, has her monsters.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
What is a monster? What does its creation have to say about fear and desire in the world it haunts? This course will examine the literary representation of monsters, both hideous and beautiful, as well as of their creators and victims, throughout the long 19th century. We will address contextual issues of gender and sexuality; class, race, and culture; realism and the supernatural; urban and rural settings, all in a century known for its developments in science and technology, its social upheaval, and its veneer of respectability, yet with monsters lurking in closets and under beds. The tentative core text list includes Frankenstein and Dracula, as well as Jane Eyre, Carmilla, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Turn of the Screw, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as various examples of short fiction. We will also consider the evolution of academic critical responses (as well as popular reaction) to these texts and the 19th-century Gothic in general, and the way in which such texts have shaped the way we think about and visualize the 19th century. Evaluation will be based on a short midterm paper, a term paper requiring secondary research, and a final examination (all focused on literary textual analysis) as well as contribution to in-class and Connect-based discussion.
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