English | Special Topics in Literary Study & Theory
L680 | TBA | Kriegel

L680   (TBA) KRIEGEL (#4)
Special Topics in Literary Study and Theory

2:30a – 5:30p  R


In 1899, Rudyard Kipling published his famous poem, “The White Man’s
Burden,” in both Great Britain and the United States.  The poem laid
out the virtues and vicissitudes of empire building in catchy verse,
as it exhorted the United States to follow Great Britain’s imperial
path.  Kipling’s poem has become the best known exposition of the
Anglo-American “civilizing mission.”  The idea of a mission to
civilize was long dismissed as a “moral fig leaf” for the imperial
project.  However, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,
the civilizing mission provided an overarching logic for the project
of empire in Great Britain and the United States.  In this course,
we will seek to understand the evolution, popularization, and
transformation of the civilizing mission ideal in a transatlantic

Our objects of analysis will include primary texts and current
scholarship important to literary critics and historians alike.   We
will examine of a wide range of writings produced for various
audiences throughout the very long nineteenth century.  The textual
artifacts of the civilizing mission that we will study will include
tracts, sermons, scientific treatises, novels, and poetry authored
by such figures as Burton, Carlyle, Haggard, Kipling, Rhodes,
Roosevelt, and Stanley.  We will also consider landmark historical
scholarship and literary criticism produced over the past few
decades as we seek to understand the civilizing mission and, not
incidentally, to learn about practices of writing across the

Together, the thematic focus and assigned texts should allow
students to cultivate skills of close reading, electronic research,
and historical analysis.  The written assignments for this course
should enforce these developments, while also allowing students to
hone their own research and teaching interests within the field more
generally.   We will, therefore, experiment with different sorts of
writing about various types of sources.  Our assignments will
include, though not be limited to, a book review, a primary source
analysis, and, at the end of the term, an annotated syllabus.