English | Special Topics in Literary Study & Theory
L680 | 14393 | Elmer, Favret

L680  14393 ELMER/FAVRET (#4)
Special Topics in Literary Study & Theory

11:15a – 12:30p TR

This course, team-taught by Mary Favret and Jonathan Elmer,
continues a year-long examination of a range of texts and problems
related to what we will call the Romantic Atlantic. The first half
of the course was offered in fall 07; this will be the second half.
But students need not have taken the first half in order to enroll
in the second. We have divided the class focus more or less
chronologically, moving in the fall from the era of the American
Revolution and the rise of antislavery discourse, through the era of
the Napoleonic wars and England’s second conflict with their former
colony (called the War of 1812 in the U.S.).  So, say 1776-1815.
The second semester will move forward in time, through the so-called
second-generation of Romantic writers, to consider the “late”
Romanticism represented by antebellum American writers –roughly 1810-
1850.  The luxury of having a full year, and two of us, has meant
that we can aspire both to provide a survey of what has been
achieved over the past ten to fifteen years using a trans-Atlantic
perspective, as well as highlight some of the emerging archival
opportunities and methodological innovations in the field.  Although
we are trained in British and American literature and culture,
respectively, we hope to incorporate other Anglophone Atlantic
culture hearths.  We will be looking past (but not ignoring) the
vast network of literary influences of the “Emerson read Carlyle”
variety, to consider the ways in which forces larger than literary
culture—transformations in spatial experience, geopolitical
upheavals like war or revolution or imperial expansion, changes in
the materiality of communication, manners and laws of possession and
self-possession—impinge upon, form and deform, the expressive
cultures of the Romantic Atlantic.   We are especially interested,
in other words, in approaches that change what we take to be our
primary objects of analysis, or the kind of arguments we can make.

We have received a curricular development grant that has allowed us
to bring in prominent scholars in the field, who are able both to
reflect on what scholarship in this field has accomplished, and
where it might go next. Each speaker will give a public lecture and
hold a seminar meeting with the class. Our spring visitors will be
Ian Baucom (Duke U.) and Wai Chee Dimock (Yale U.).

We conceive of this class as a laboratory for advanced graduate
work.  We are experimenting with novel ways of approaching
collective and individual scholarship, as well as reconfigurations
of concepts of expertise and critical practice.  While we are still
tinkering with requirements—and would be happy to receive
suggestions from interested students, or merely inquiries—we expect
to ask students to engage in some independent investigation of
sources and archives not covered by our joint readings, as well as
organizing class discussion.