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The Bronte Sisters

ENGL 255.301
TR 1:30–3
fulfills requirements:
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Pre-1900 Seminar Requirement of the Standard Major

This course is devoted to the literary achievements of the Brontë sisters, whose first novels arrived on the British literary scene in 1847 with the publication of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey. Representing themselves as a trio of brothers—Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell—the Brontës polarized their critics, with many insisting that works as complex as theirs could only be produced by men, while others noted their daring and sometimes radical representation of gender and sexuality. Together we will consider both the novels of the Brontës and the fate of their critical reputation; we will conduct a study of their most significant works and investigate how they have been interpreted and valued—both in their own historical moment and in our own. The Brontës have achieved an almost mythical status as great authors, and our task will be both to understand the works that support or undercut that myth as well as the history that gave rise to it. Over the course of this semester, students will complete two short papers, give an independent research report on a particular aspect of the Brontës work or reception, and submit a final research paper.