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Science and Literature cancelled

ENGL 075.910
instructor(s):
MTWR 4:20-5:55
HSSC 110-910

From the beginnings of the scientific revolution through the late 19th century, imaginative writing has had a vexed relationship to science: literature appears both driven to celebrate and determined to berate scientific pursuits. James Thomson celebrates Newton's optics, but Keats insists it destroyed the rainbow; Abraham Cowley sings the praises of the Royal Society, while Swift mocks its befuddled scientists. In this course, we'll ask what drove literary writers to engage with science of their day: Why did they feel impelled to promote or quarrel with science? What made science so attractive or disturbing to them? What did they gain by their praise or blame? To answer these questions, we'll examine a series of literary representations of science and ask how they respond to the increasing separation between disciplines, the rise of the professional scientist, and the growing authority of science in British culture. Readings will likely include poems by Cowley, Thomson, Wordsworth, Keats, Blake, and Tennyson, selections from Eramus Darwin and his grandson Charles, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Stevenson's Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Requirements: weekly reading responses, two short essays, a final exam, and spirited participation in class discussions.