ENGL479B - Selected Topics in English and American Literature after 1800: Modern Writers in Search of the Self

This course will focus on the function of memory and imagination in establishing a sense of self. The literature we shall be dealing with entails a kind of reflexive consciousness—a readiness both to explore interior life and to look at oneself from outside, as others do—considerably more heightened than ordinary self-awareness. Of particular concern to us will be artists who ratchet up the level of consciousness by crossing cultural or linguistic borders, writers such as the novelists Vladimir Nabokov, Marilynne Robinson, W. G. Sebald, and Louise Erdrich and the poets Edwin Muir and Elizabeth Bishop. Students will be asked to take mid-term and final examinations and do a total of approximately fifteen pages of writing, which may include personal as well as critical essays.


Two English courses in literature or permission of department.