English | Literatures in English, 1800-1900
E303 | 6965 | Rae Greiner


E303 6965 LITERATURES IN ENGLISH, 1800-1900
Rae Greiner

1:00p-2:15p TR (30 students) 3 cr.  A&H.

TOPIC:  “Strange Cases:  Anomalies, Exceptions, and Odd-Men-Out”

auf Wiedersehen!  So Heidi Klum reminds us each week:  “One day you
are in, and the next day, you’re out.”  But where is the boundary
between “out” and “in”?  Who keeps it?  What happens if you were
never “in fashion”?  If you stand outside, or are the exception (not
the rule):  deviant, off, or otherwise strange?  In this course,
we’ll cover a wide range of literary genres, each featuring an off,
aslant, or exceptional figure:  the mad scientist (Jekyll and Hyde),
the anomaly and the outsider (murderers and monsters in Browning,
Hawthorne, Twain, Poe), odd men and women (Byron’s Manfred,
Tennyson’s Maud), tellers of tall tales (“Rip Van Winkle”), and the
like.  We’ll move from “strange fits of passion” (Wordsworth) to the
strange cases of detective fiction (Doyle).  Several of the texts
we’ll read offer particularly acute representations of the pain that
anomalousness brings to the racialized other, the female, the poor,
and the outcast.  Likely longer texts will include Frankenstein
(Shelley), Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Jacobs), The Woman
in White (Collins), and The Odd Women (Gissing).  While our broad
historical goal in this class is simply to read a wide range of
literary texts from the period, and thus gain a better sense of its
character and its values, our conceptual goal will be to scrutinize
the mechanics of “estrangement” and effects of “being outed.”  We
will attempt to historicize the “strange cases” covered, in an
effort to better understand the nineteenth-century politics of
keeping some things “off” and some people odd men- (and women-)
out.

Course requirements include: a good deal of (careful, active)
reading; mandatory attendance and regular participation; reading
quizzes and in-class activities, including group work; three lengthy
and intensive close readings (of about 5 pages each); a midterm and
a final exam (passage identification and short answer), and a
formal, thesis-driven paper (8-10 pages).