Spring 2013 - Graduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
THIS COURSE IS AVAILABLE TO DOCTORAL STUDENTS ONLY.
The world is full of things, and literature is full of things, too. It seems obvious that things in literature (made of words and syntax) are different from things in the world (made of matter and substance). But the two media are connected, too. Literary texts often invoke things that physically exist in the world, and our attitudes towards those physical things may be conditioned by our encounters with their literary avatars. In particular, things may be charged with meaning in a literary text, and that meaning may seep into worldly objects that we would ordinarily perceive as meaningless.
In this doctoral seminar, we will examine the relation between text and world, paying special attention to the status of things and the way that meaning operates. Literary texts will likely include Cotton Mather's Biblia Americana, Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance, and Henry James's The Spoils of Poynton, among others. We will also read criticism from a variety of disciplines (literary studies, art history, philosophy, and science), many of which are newly attending to things, to situate our thinking.
Book order will be placed at Off-Campus Books and the on-campus bookstore.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Regular attendance, reading, and engagement with class discussion; several short writing assignments; one research paper.