Making sense of things -- life in general or one's own life -- is difficult. Personal suffering, change, unexpected events, growth -- all can raise questions, create confusion, challenge familiar ideas and points of view. The writers to whom readers have returned over time are often those who have used their novels or plays or poetry to give shape to the seemingly shapeless, to find or make a structure under apparent chaos, to draw beauty and pleasure out of pain, to make sense of what lay before or behind them.
This semester we shall examine a variety of works composed in Britain during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, periods in which change or difficulty was often felt, or at least articulated, particularly strongly, and will see how their creators made art out of what they knew. In the process, we shall pay attention to the ways that we, too, make sense out of what lies before us, whether it be a work of literature or our own lives. Authors may include: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Bronte, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas. Assignments will include frequent papers, critiques and revisions of papers, and occasional in-class presentation.