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Representing History

ENGL 100.401

 The object of the course is to investigate what happens when historical events and personages are represented in cultural life. We will study plays, novels, paintings, film and television—as well as a bit of history—taking us from Shakespeare to Downton Abbey. Auxillary readings in theory and method will allow us to grapple with the deeper questions of our readings: How and why do modern societies care about the past? What is the difference between a historical novel and a work of historiography? Do different kinds of writing offer different forms of truth about human events? As we will learn, the representation of history has a history of its own, which we can trace from the renaissance up to the present day. Readings will include works by: Shakespeare, Scott, Tolstoy, Hughes, Eisenstein, Márquez, Eco and others. In the course of the semester, students will gain competence in the interpretation of literary texts from a variety of cultures and periods, and also improve their analytical writing skills.