Link: Current Undergraduate Courses Link: Current Undergraduate Catalog
English 495-1: The Senior Course: William Wordsworth and Literary Geography (Paul Westover)
The imagination has its own geography, and England’s Lake District has become an essential region within it for readers of Anglophone poetry. William Wordsworth, the leading poet of English Romanticism, is the primary reason. Never had a writer so thoroughly grounded his work or his own identity in place. Wordsworth permanently altered the way readers imagined their relationships not only to the Lake District but also to location and to “nature” generally. Thus, it is no surprise that by the late 1800s readers were referring to the Lake District as “Wordsworth Country” and going there on pilgrimage. Wordsworth had helped create one of the first modern literary landscapes.
We have recently seen a “spatial turn” in the Humanities. One of its manifestations has been the acceleration of interdisciplinary work on literary geography. An exploration of Wordsworth and his legacy, as offered by this senior capstone course, provides an introduction to this realm of study. At the same time, investigating Wordsworth will show us that literary geography is not in itself new; in fact, it was a major preoccupation of nineteenth-century culture. Thus, we have in the writing of Wordsworth and his contemporaries a rich archive on the interactions of places, books, and personal experiences—an archive that we can explore with tools both old and new. Students in this class will do just that and produce their own original scholarship.
English 495-1: The Senior Course: Biopolitical Dystopias in Contemporary British Fiction (Peter Leman)
In this course, we will examine dystopian writing in contemporary British/Anglophone literature within a framework of biopolitics, or the extension of sovereign power over biological life. We will briefly trace the development of utopian/dystopian writing in the British tradition and then pair key theories of biopower (e.g., Foucault, Agamben, Mbembe) with recent dystopian texts that portray “individual bodies and entire populations … integrated into new rationalities of governing” (Coole 2014). Our primary texts will include The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood, Never Let Me Go (2005) by Kazuo Ishiguro, the film Children of Men (2006), and The Power (2016) by Naomi Alderman.