English Literature

Amy J. Yanity, Literature and The Environment, Fall 2013

Course Description:

In this course, students will read and write about the environment and its issues as expressed through literature. Readings in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction will explore how the geography of a location influences the character of its inhabitants and how the forces of nature affect their lives and fortunes. Writing will consist of personal and critical short essays as well as a longer essay/project involving independent readings and research.

Required Texts:

Literature and The Environment, A Reader on Nature and Culture (2nd Edition.)

Amy J. Yanity, Literature And The Environment, Spring 2014

Course Description:

In this course, students will read and write about the environment and its issues as expressed through literature. Readings in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction will explore how the geography of a location influences the character of its inhabitants and how the forces of nature affect their lives and fortunes. Writing will consist of personal and critical short essays as well as a longer essay/project involving independent readings and research.

Required Texts:

Literature and The Environment, A Reader on Nature and Culture (2nd Edition.)

Ann Rea, Detective Fiction, Spring 2014

Course Description:

This course examines detective fiction in terms of its history, its social meaning and as a form of philosophizing. It also seeks to reveal the place and values of popular fiction in our lives.

Required Texts:

Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes: Complete Novels & Stories Vol. 1, Publisher: Bantam

Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone, Penguin

Dorothy Sayers, Strong Poison, Bourbon Street Books

P. D. James, An Unsuitable Job For A Woman, Touchstone

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, Vintage

Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon, Vintage

Tony Hillerman, Skinwalkers, Harper

Kathleen George, Taken, Dell

Tana French, In the Woods, Penguin

Ann Rea, Introduction to Literature, Fall 2018

Course Description and Required Texts:

Introduction to Literature is required for English Literature majors in their first year, which means that many of you are in your first semester. Its purpose is to introduce you to the variety of genres that you will study in the coming years, and to teach you how to analyze poetry, drama and fiction so that you are ready to embark on your future classes. For some of you, this class will serve as an introductory exposure to literature as a general education area of study, and you are either new to it or do not plan to pursue it as a degree. To meet these needs, I have selected some of my favorite texts from each genre, also aiming to expose you to literature from a variety of eras. So we will read a Shakespeare play, Othello, from 1604, an eighteenth-century novel by Daniel Defoe called Moll Flanders, and a book about poetry, The Making of A Poem, which describes a variety of poetic forms and explains how poets have used them. You may know that Othello is a play about perceptions of race, as well as how someone can be manipulated to perceive another inaccurately, because of jealousy. Moll Flanders (1722) was one of the early novels written in English and describes a woman making her way in the world using the limited means available to her that included marriage and, eventually crime, at a time when women’s opportunities were severely limited. Her story is also the story of the origins of capitalism and will give us many moral questions to discuss, as well as being a dramatic, event-filled tale. Our later texts include E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, which might be my favorite novel ever, set in India among the English colonizers just before India gained independence. Another story about colonialization Brian Friel’s Translations, depicts Ireland undergoing settlement by the English in the early nineteenth century, although the play was written at the end of the twentieth century. Friel reveals how map-making and language help to determine the communities we live in, and how characters can judge or misjudge the historical events happening around them. Finally, Graham Swift’s The Light of Day (2003) tells the story of a private detective embroiled in complex ways in a murder investigation. I hope these texts will awaken your curiosity about literature, as well as your enjoyment of it, and will allow you to learn about how literary texts work, as well as how to develop the skills to interpret them.
Since reading is central, I will expect you to prepare for this class by reading the assigned texts thoughtfully and conscientiously and coming to class prepared to be involved in active discussion. This class will require your active participation and is not a lecture class, but one where you will engage with ideas and conversation and express your own views. This can be lots of fun, and, but for it to function we need everyone to make the effort to be reflective about his or her part in it. If you tend to want to talk a lot you might need to check that you do not dominate the discussion. If you are shy and tend to leave the talking to others you might need to push yourself to speak. It is extremely important that we behave respectfully towards others in the discussions.
I will require you to prepare discussion-prompting questions an assigned days so that we can pay attention to the aspects of the reading that interest you, although of course I will also guide you towards the interpretive skills you need to learn. We will develop the calendar of discussion guiding assignments when we meet.

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Introduction to Shakespeare, Fall 2015

Course Description:

This course will focus on a number of Shakespeare's major plays from all phases of his career. Class discussion will consider the historical context of the plays, their characterization, theatrical technique, imagery, language, and themes. Every attempt will be made to see the plays both as poems and as dramatic events.

Required Texts:

The Riverside Shakespeare or The Wadsworth Shakespeare

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Introduction to Shakespeare, Fall 2016

Course Description:

Shakespeare is a phenomenon unique in English literature. His plays have been read, performed, quoted, studied and written about continually since his lifetime four hundred and fifty years ago, and their influence on English speaking cultures is so enormous that we can scarcely grasp it. Our factual knowledge about Shakespeare himself has some gaps and our access to the plays’ texts sometimes relies on conflicting versions: folios and actors’ prompt books occasionally have missing words and contradictions. But we do have parish records that show that Shakespeare was born on 26th April, 1564 and died in 1616, fifty two years later almost to the day. His family was solidly middleclass and he had a good education which, in those days, consisted largely of the classics, especially Latin. We also have four hundred and fifty years of scholarship about Shakespeare, written by famous writers such as Samuel Johnson, Alexander Pope, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and contemporary scholars continue to find richness and complexity in Shakespeare’s works and to reconsider them from new perspectives.

For this introductory course we will read eight plays and work on understanding them in their historical contexts, understanding and appreciating the language and the use of verse, prose and stagecraft, as well as characterization. We will examine many of the preoccupations to which Shakespeare returns: kingship and political representation; women and authority; the regulation of sexual behavior; the growing sense of individual sensibility; acting and performance and the prevalent discomfort with dissembling, or inauthenticity. In many cases these are the preoccupations of his era, but the wide popular audience of his plays means that he also intervened on contemporary issues, for example by educating his audiences about their country’s history. Many of Shakespeare’s plays tell stories about England’s fairly immediate history, and we will explore the ways in which Shakespeare influenced contemporary opinion about political matters, perhaps to the point of propaganda, as well as helping to create a cohesive sense of English national identity after a divisive and tumultuous historical period. But his life and work straddle the end of the reign of Elizabeth I and James I’s ascension to the throne: an important political shift which entailed a change in how the theatre was viewed, as well as an increase in censorship, and many of his plays comment indirectly on social and political issues even while they appear to describe very different matters.

This class will focus on the plays, although Shakespeare was also a poet. The plays show an enormous diversity between the histories, the comedies, tragedies, and the many “problem plays” which evade these categories. Many of the plays are based on Latin texts that Shakespeare encountered during his education, others are based on old English stories, and some revise these old stories and combine them to make totally new tales.

This class requires your active participation in a way in which your other classes may not. This is not a lecture class, but one where you will engage with ideas and conversation and express your own thoughts. We get to know one another in this class. But you must prepare for class by reading the assigned plays thoughtfully and by coming to class prepared to be involved in active discussion. This can be lots of fun, and we can often have a laugh, but for it to function we need everyone to make the effort to be reflective about his or her part in it. If you tend to want to talk a lot you might need to check that you do not dominate the discussion. If you are shy and tend to leave the talking to others you might need to push yourself to speak. It is extremely important that we behave respectfully towards others in the discussions. Class participation will form part of your grade.

Required Text:

The Riverside Shakespeare or The Wadsworth Shakespeare

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Introduction to Shakespeare, Fall 2017

Course Description:

For this introductory course we will read eight plays and work on understanding them in their historical contexts, understanding and appreciating the language and the use of verse, prose and stagecraft, as well as characterization. We will examine many of the preoccupations to which Shakespeare returns: kingship and political representation; women and authority; the regulation of sexual behavior; the growing sense of individual sensibility; acting and performance and the prevalent discomfort with dissembling, or inauthenticity. In many cases these are the preoccupations of his era, but the wide popular audience of his plays means that he also intervened on contemporary issues, for example by educating his audiences about their country’s history. Many of Shakespeare’s plays tell stories about England’s fairly immediate history, and we will explore the ways in which Shakespeare influenced contemporary opinion about political matters, perhaps to the point of propaganda, as well as helping to create a cohesive sense of English national identity after a divisive and tumultuous historical period. But his life and work straddle the end of the reign of Elizabeth I and James I’s ascension to the throne: an important political shift which entailed a change in how the theatre was viewed, as well as an increase in censorship, and many of his plays comment indirectly on social and political issues even while they appear to describe very different matters.

Required Text:

The Riverside Shakespeare or The Wadsworth Shakespeare

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Introduction to Shakespeare, Fall 2018

Course Description:

For this introductory course we will read eight plays and work on understanding them in their historical contexts, understanding and appreciating the language and the use of verse, prose and stagecraft, as well as characterization. We will examine many of the preoccupations to which Shakespeare returns: kingship and political representation; women and authority; the regulation of sexual behavior; the growing sense of individual sensibility; acting and performance and the prevalent discomfort with dissembling, or inauthenticity. In many cases these are the preoccupations of his era, but the wide popular audience of his plays means that he also intervened on contemporary issues, for example by educating his audiences about their country’s history. Many of Shakespeare’s plays tell stories about England’s fairly immediate history, and we will explore the ways in which Shakespeare influenced contemporary opinion about political matters, perhaps to the point of propaganda, as well as helping to create a cohesive sense of English national identity after a divisive and tumultuous historical period. But his life and work straddle the end of the reign of Elizabeth I and James I’s ascension to the throne: an important political shift which entailed a change in how the theatre was viewed, as well as an increase in censorship, and many of his plays comment indirectly on social and political issues even while they appear to describe very different matters.

Required Text:

The Riverside Shakespeare or The Wadsworth Shakespeare

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Jane Austen: Books and Film, Fall 2018

Course Description:

Jane Austen lived and wrote at a time of enormous social change when England was moving towards modernity. She was born in 1775 and died in 1817 at only 42 years of age, and experienced the shift from the eighteenth century to the nineteenth. At the same time she helped to bridge the development of the eighteenth-century novel into the nineteenth-century novel. This accompanied and expressed the dilemmas of a society moving from a late form of feudalism into capitalism, with a growing sense of democracy and the rise of the middle class, accompanied by examination of changing morals and civic relations. As a writer whose interest is primarily with the women of her time, Austen also delineates domestic life during the growth of capitalism. As part of this transition, women’s roles themselves changed.
We begin the course by reading excerpts from Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in response to Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man, on the subject of women’s education, a subject that was never far from Austen’s thoughts. Education, for Austen and Wollstonecraft, involved the development of women’s minds, manners, morals and ability to perform meaningful roles in their families and in the slightly wider world. Austen’s palette is the close environs of the immediate home and the close society, particularly in her earlier novels, but her work often portrays England in these microcosms, and she ponders the bigger questions of the direction in which English society was moving. She knew the intellectual developments happening in the wider world, and always she tells a compelling story, with narrative developments that keep us in suspense and characters who we care about.
Jane Austen has earned recent popularity based on a view of her work as a sort of “Masterpiece Theatre,” romantic set of dramas based in mannered English drawing rooms, in long dresses with up-dos. On one hand I like anything that encourages people to read good books, but this commercialized mobilization of “Janeites” that has exploded in the last decade is not what this course will focus on as it misses many of the complexities of Jane Austen’s work, even though we will watch some films that could be argued to be part of that explosion. But part of the “Janeite” phenomenon is based on the fact that readers gain lots of pleasure from reading Austen’s narratives and I am very happy about that!
We will read four of Austen’s novels and watch film adaptations, exploring the works’ depths and examining them in their social and historical contexts so that we can understand the influence of Austen’s contemporaries on her thinking. We will also read a critical article about each novel and take these critical concepts into our set of tools for understanding the fiction. Film adaptations help us to consider the changing interpretations of the novels over time, and we will have some critical reading to help you to consider the adaptation process as a form of reinterpretation.
So while we explore the historical context that allows us to understand Austen’s concerns, we will also examine how our historical context influences our reading of her work. While you write your long papers we will watch Clueless, a modern adaptation of Austen’s Emma, for a bit of pure fun.

Print Texts:
Sense and Sensibility, Harper Collins, (1811)

Pride and Prejudice, Penguin (1813)

Mansfield Park, Penguin (1814)

Persuasion, Penguin (published posthumously in 1818)

Notice that Austen’s fiction was all published over a period of seven years. Her work includes Northanger Abbey (1818) which we will not be reading.

You must own copies of these print texts and should aim to mark them up and make them your own, lived-in copies.
We will watch the following film adaptations:
Sense and Sensibility, Director Ang Lee
Sampler of film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice – Joe Wright, director; Simon Langton BBC production; Robert Z. Leonard; Bride and Prejudice, director Chadha Gurinder; Lost in Austen, Director Dan Zeff.
Mansfield Park, Director Iain B. MacDonald
Persuasion, Roger Michell
Clueless, Director Amy Heckering

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Jane Austen: Books and Film, Spring 2015

Course Description:

We will read four of Austen’s novels and watch film adaptations, reading the works’ depths and examining them in their social and historical contexts so that we can understand the influence of Austen’s contemporaries on her thinking.

Required Texts:

Sense and Sensibility, Harper, (1811)
Pride and Prejudice, Penguin (1813)
Mansfield Park, Penguin (1814)
Emma, Penguin (1815)

Pages