Fall 2014 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Goldberg, Shari
Discipline and Number
HUSL 7350 Section 501
W Time 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title
Thinking Through Henry James

Description of Course:


Henry James (1843-1916) came to be referred to as "The Master" by early critics of his fiction, and there is certainly much to admire about his craft: elegantly sinuous sentences, characters with ambiguous motives, plots that resist devolving into pat dramas. Yet in addition to exhibiting his famous style, James's writings serve as an archive of his engagement with the intellectual ideas streaming around him, ideas that would launch the twentieth century. As the nineteenth century drew to a close, Sigmund Freud was arguing that our mental activity is largely unconscious; Karl Marx was proposing that material conditions determine individual selfhood; and Friedrich Nietzsche was insisting that language remains untethered to the world. In this course, we will study James as he responded to these new ideas about mind, matter, and meaning. By examining key pieces of relevant philosophy and criticism, as well as representative works from James, we will aim to understand how his fiction thinks through the major issues of his time.

Required Texts:

Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
Gerald Willen, A Casebook on Henry James's The Turn of the Screw
Henry James, In the Cage
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
Henry James, The Spoils of Poynton
Henry James, What Maisie Knew

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Commitment to carefully reading challenging texts; engagement with class discussion; one presentation; one paper proposal; one seminar paper.

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