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Dangerous Literature

ENGL 0304.301
TR 12-1:29pm

This first-year seminar will explore literary works that were called or perceived dangerous. A literary history of what one can call “good literature” today reveals a history of censorship, prohibition, and book burning—be it for moral, political, or religious reasons. In his Republic, Plato proposes to ban literature as it is imitative and corruptive. Others celebrated human imagination as advancing society and liberating the individual. Starting with classical debates about dangers of literature, and arts in general, this course will examine a wide array of literary works and genres (i.e. drama, poetry, novel) perceived as scandalous, threatening, obscene, anti-religion, immoral, treasonous; a body of transgressive work that pushed the societal norms and survived generations after generations. It will also introduce students to literary analysis and close reading techniques as well as major literary movements and periodization. By studying dangerous literature closely and transhistorically, students will acquire knowledge about the texts as well as historical, aesthetic, and philosophical contexts from which they emerged. This will additionally lead them to question the value of literature and its complex interrelationship with society, culture, and politics in our contemporary world.



English Major Requirements
  • Sector 2 Difference and Diaspora (AEDD)
  • Sector 3 Medieval/Renaissance (AEMR)
  • Sector 4 Long 18th Century (AE18)
  • Sector 5 19th Century (AE19)
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
  • Medieval/Renaissance Concentration (AEMC)
College Attributes
  • Sector III: Arts & Letters (AUAL)
  • Foundational Approach: Cross Cultural Analysis (AUCC)
Additional Attributes