When William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft married in 1797 theirs were among the most radical voices in British culture and fiction. Wollstonecraft died after giving birth to a child they named Mary (which was also the title of Wollstonecraft's first novel), and that daughter would go on to achieve similar success on successive title pages as "the author of Frankenstein." When she and Percy Bysshe Shelley became lovers and then wed, they self-consciously styled their working marriage on that of Mary's parents. This seminar will investigate the dynamics of these revolutionary literary unions both biographically and in terms of the patterns and themes that link the writings of all four. Among the works we will study are Wollstonecraft's novels Mary and Maria, or the "Wrongs of Woman, as well as her major polemics, Vindication of the Rights of Man and Vindication of the Rights of Woman; Godwin's Caleb Williams, St. Leon, and Fleetwood, as well as excerpts from his epochal Enquiry concerning Political Justice; Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Valperga, also maybe her late novel Lodore; and as much of Percy Bysshe Shelley's poetry as we have time for.
Requirements: small oral reports in class; seminar paper of approximately 20 pages.