English754.301: Novel Doubletakes
This course will examine the historical, cultural, and aesthetic significance of the nineteenth-century novel by focussing on a peculiar trend in contemporary literature: the penchant of twentieth-century authors for rewriting nineteenth-century fiction. In the course of the semester, we will read a series of nineteenth-century novels alongside their twentieth-century counterparts in order to ask a number of difficult literary, historical, and theoretical questions: why have so many present-day authors found it essential to take up the politics and poetics of nineteenth-century fiction? What do rewritings of nineteenth-century novels allow authors to say--about now, about then, about the relationship between now and then? How do these literary "doubletakes" transform, distort, illuminate, or even mistake the works they are adapting? In order to address these questions, we will necessarily have a dual focus in this course, studying what these variously re-written works meant during the nineteenth-century in order to better address their significance to late twentieth-century ideas about authorship and culture.
Required Texts (available at Penn Book Center):
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
A.S. Byatt, Possession
Peter Carey, Jack Maggs
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss
Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones Diary
John Guillory, Cultural Capital
Mary Kingsley, Travels in West Africa
Cynthia Ozick, The Puttermesser Papers
Norman Rush, Mating
David Simpson, The Academic Postmodern
Anthony Trollope, The Warden
A bulkpack, available at Campus Copy Center
One shortish paper (10-12 pages) due mid-term
A longer research paper (20-25 pages) due at the end of the term
One in-class presentation
Regular forays into both actual and virtual archives to locate reviews, articles, historical information, and other materials relevant to the course.
Schedule of readings:
January 20 Pride and Prejudice
January 27 Bridget Jones Diary; Sedgwick, "Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl"; Simpson, "The Academic Postmodern?"
February 3 John Guillory, Cultural Capital
February 10 Jane Eyre
February 18 Wide Sargasso Sea; Spivak, "Three Womens Texts and a Critique of Imperialism"; Robbins, "Comparative Cosmopolitanisms"; Robbins, "Upward Mobility in the Postcolonial Era: Kincaid, Mukherjee, and the Cosmopolitan Au Pair" [on-line through Project Muse]; Simpson, "The Return of the Storyteller"; Benjamin, "The Storyteller"
February 25 The Warden; Peltason, "The Way We Read and Write Now: The Rhetoric of Experience in Victorian Literature and Contemporary Criticism" [ELH 99; Project Muse]
March 2 Great Expectations
March 9 Jack Maggs; Said, from Culture and Imperialism; Lansbury, "The Micawbers", "The Convict Redeemed"; Hughes, "Introduction"; Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"
Screen Great Expectations
March 10 FIRST PAPER DUE
March 16 Spring Break
March 23 Mill on the Floss
March 30 Puttermesser Papers
April 6 Heart of Darkness; Travels in West Africa
April 13 Mating; Simpson, "Local Knowledge and Literary Criticism"
April 20 Possession; Simpson, "The Urge for Solutions and the Relief of Fiction"
April 27 Selections from Victorian Literature and Culture on Victorian Studies and Cultural Studies; Last day of class
May 5 FINAL PAPER DUE