Wednesday, January 13, 2010

BENG 411 Course Objectives

English 411 is intended to engage you in a detailed and thoughtful analysis of some major British literary works of the Romantic period of the late 18th to early 19th centuries. Our analysis of literature will include analysis of the cultural forces and values that influenced the authors and their productions. Because such a task is prohibitively large, we will narrow our inquiry to focus on texts that engage the theme of performance and role-playing. More exactly, we will be considering how a range of British authors complicate the notion of a unified or knowable "essence" of individual identity, and instead explore the extent to which all of our knowledge of "self" is rooted in performance. In taking this as our theme, we will consider the relationship between the themes of Romanticism and the limits of language to convey truth or reality. We will analyze the primary texts alongside a range of secondary texts, some of which will provide historical context, and others which will cover linguistic theory, gender studies, and literary criticism. Throughout the semester, we will be looking at literature a both an artistic production that can tell us something about how generic conventions are used to convey a range of meaning, and as historical artifact that can tell us something about the culture that produced it.

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