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ENG 392

Genre: Advanced Topics

Study of works drawn from a specific literary genre or subgenre. Examples include Confessional Poetry, The Early Novel and Revenge Tragedy.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Spring Semester information

Harry Brown

392A: Advanced Topics: Early American Nature Writing

We think of American nature writing as beginning in 1854 with Thoreau's Walden, which influences almost all subsequent environmental thought. But what influenced Thoreau? This course surveys the tradition of American nature writing that anticipates Walden, a tradition shaped by the staggering possibilities and challenges of confronting what seemed to many as a limitless wilderness: a new world demanding a new concept of our place in it. Following the initial shock and euphoria of discovery, we can trace a developing awareness of the limits of environmental use, the interconnectedness of living things, and the human responsibility to the environment. The ecocentric consciousness that defines Walden did not appear suddenly with Thoreau but instead took shape over three centuries of human interaction with the diverse natural environments of North America. Informed by initial readings in environmental history and ecocriticism, we will observe the emergence of American environmental thought in a broad range of exploration and travel narratives, scientific accounts, religious and philosophical essays, poetry, fiction, and Native American legends. We will conclude with Thoreau's early writing, works preceding Walden, in order to close the gap and establish the continuity between early and modern American environmental literature.

Istvan Csicsery-Ronay

392B: Advanced Topics: History of the Novel (The Early Years)

History of the Novel 1 (The Early Years) will explore the evolution of the novel as a literary genre from ancient Rome to the end of the European 18th century. We will focus primarily on the European narrative tradition, with excursions into classical novels of China and Japan. Texts may include Apuleius's The Golden Ass, Madame de Lafayette's The Princess of Cleves, Cervantes's Don Quixote, Lady Murasaki's The Tale of Genji, Wu Ch'eng En's The Journey to the West (Monkey), Fielding's Tom Jones, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Choderlos de Laclos's Dangerous Liaisons, and Radcliffe's The Italian.