Spring 2016 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Gossin, Pamela
Discipline and Number
HUSL 6355 Section 001
F Time 10:00 AM - 12:45 PM
Course Title
19th c Brit Lit & Science

Description of Course:

HUSL 6355
Literature, Science, and Culture: Gothic to SciFi
Friday: 10-12:45pm, JO 4.708

Course Description:

This course offers a broad survey of the interrelations of “literature and science” as they were expressed within literary, philosophical and natural historical inquiry produced in Great Britain during the long nineteenth century. We will examine diverse forms of prose fiction and verse – ranging from short stories, novellas, novels and, possibly, one “great” (BIG!) classic Victorian novel as well as selections of Darwin’s works (equally “big” and “classic”). The texts will include many styles and modes of prose narrative including the gothic, realism and naturalism, fantasy and detection, the sensuous and sensational, melodrama and science fiction. In the process of reading and discussing these works, we will explore late-18th C to end-of-the-19th-century ideas about progress, gender, race, class, aesthetic and moral values in relation to co-developing concepts of God, nature, the Industrial Revolution, heredity and Darwinism, astronomy and cosmology.

The class is designed to encourage open, friendly discussion and participation, enhanced with informational background lectures and extra credit / enrichment videos. Both primary and secondary texts should be of equal value to beginning and advanced graduate students interested in developing a broader understanding of the development of late 18th and 19th-c prose fiction and the interdisciplinary relations between the history of science, literature and the humanities.

* NOTE: Although the historical contexts of scientific and technological change will inform our reading and discussion, no previous background in science or technology is required. *

Required Texts:

NOTE: Book list is NOT final . . . options currently under consideration are described below . . .

Primary "literary" Required Texts will include some the following:

Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto, Oxford
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Penguin
Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
Charles Dickens, Bleak House, Penguin OR George Eliot, Middlemarch
Alfred. Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam (selections)
A. Swinburne, selected poetry
Charles Darwin, Origin of Species and Descent of Man (selections)
Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd, Two on a Tower or Return of the Native
R. L. Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Signet
Oscar Wilde, Picture of Dorian Gray Prestwick
A. C. Doyle, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Penguin
H.G. Wells, Time Machine, Penguin

Required and Recommended Scholarly/Literary Critical/Historical Secondary texts, may include:

Laura Otis, ed. Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century
Rosemarie Morgan, Ed. Ashgate Research Companion to Thomas Hardy
Pamela Gossin, Thomas Hardy’s Novel Universe: Astronomy, Cosmology and Gender in the
Post-Darwinisn Universe
Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder
Selected science writing by women such as Agnes Clerke, possible biographies of Carolyn
Herschel, Ada Lovelace . . .
S. Keen, Thomas Hardy’s Brains
Knellwolf and Goodall, eds., Frankenstein’s Science: Experimentations and Discovery in
Romantic Culture, 1780-1830
Henson, Cantor et al, eds., Culture and Science in the Nineteenth-Century Media
Murphy, Patricia, In Science’s Shadow: Literary Constructions of late Victorian Women

and examples of “Literary Darwinism”:
Beer, Darwin’s Plots
Carroll, Literary Darwinism
Levine, Darwin Loves You
Ruse, Darwinism and its Discontents

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:


* Attendance / participation (including extra credit): 1/3rd

* 1 or 2 in-class presentations w/ accompanying 2-3pp summary/brief of one article-length and one book-length critical perspective/scholarly critique on “lit and sci,” averaged to = 1/3rd

* 10 - 12 pp “conference style” paper and in-class presentation, on a topic discussed in class and selected in consultation with prof. = 1/3
NOTE: advanced students will have the option of writing a longer, “article-length” essay

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