Traveling with Gulliver: The Many Lives of a Text
This course will start with careful reading of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (4 vols., 1726). Then we shall follow the text on its journey from the 1720s to modern times, studying some of the many adaptations, imitations, abridgments, illustrations, translations, continuations, parodies, keys, critiques that Gulliver’s Travels has spawned over nearly three-hundred years.
Our purpose is not only to learn about Gulliver's Travels, but also to use Swift's novel as a source-text for understanding how works of art develop lives of their own. Our grounding proposition is that texts are not fixed objects, but change in time and space, and are continually remade by audiences. Close attention to Gulliver's Travels will allow us to ask far-reaching questions about modes and politics of dissemination, audiences, histories of reading and publishing, the changing status and functions of prose fiction, developments in several genres (including children's literature, science fiction, and political satire), relationships between illustration and textual interpretation, the possibilities and limitations inherent in different media, and more.
This seminar-style course will be team-taught by Lynne Farrington (Senior Curator at the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts) and Toni Bowers (Professor of English). Meetings will take place in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, where our work will engage with Penn's Teerink and Denison collections of editions of Gulliver's Travels. Enrollment is limited for reasons of space; undergraduates in their junior and senior years will be admitted first.
Requirements include substantial reading, occasional viewing of films/videos, in-class presentations, library exploration assignments, and a final essay.