ENGL212 - English Literature: 1800 to the Present

This survey course will provide you with an overview of the history of “British” literature from 1800 to the present, covering the Romantic, Victorian, Modern, and Postmodern time periods. We will learn terms and techniques of literary analysis, practice attentive close reading of texts, and engage in written and verbal discussions about the literature we read. As the quotes around “British” above indicate, one of the questions we will investigate this semester is what does it mean to be British at a particular time, given the shifts in definitions of citizenship, changes in social structures, and fluctuations of the physical and linguistic borders of the United Kingdom and the British Empire over the last two hundred or so years. By reading texts from a variety of genres, including novels, poetry, plays, essays, and manifestos, we will consider how literature responds to social and economic changes brought about by industrialization and scientific discoveries. We will consider how literature encounters, reflects, and/or interrogates cultural ideas of race, gender, class, and nation. Finally, following shifts in aesthetic values and literary techniques and traditions, we will explore questions concerning the role of the artist in society and the ethics of representation. Authors we will engage include William Blake, Mary Shelley, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Derek Walcott, and Samuel Beckett. Major assignments include an online reading journal, short papers, and a final exam.