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Topics in Literature & Society

ENGL 293.601
instructor(s):
M 5:30-8:10

This course focuses on literary and cinematic texts from the English and American canon which establish a strong connection to the pictorially embellished, i.e., representational human body. The intersections of literature, the visual arts and the pictorial body turn out to be highly charged self-reflexive moments for authors to draw attention to dominant modes of represenational theorizing. We will deal with mental images and medieval brain anatomy in Geoffrey Chaucer's House of Fame, rape and concepts of outlines in William Shakespeare's The Rape of Lucrece, tattoos and Darwinian Evolutionary Biology in Herman Melville's Typee, ornament and femininity in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wall Paper", tableaux vivants and the Picturesque aesthetic in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, cubism in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, and erotic allegories of gendered bodies in films by Billy Wilder, Hector Babenco and Spike Lee. Requirements are: one oral presentation, one short paper (4-5 pp.), and one final seminar paper (12-15 pp.). Because this class will be conducted as a seminar, major emphasis is put on your participation in class.