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Course Information

Instructor Info:Daniel Block
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
02:00 PM - 03:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 102
02:00 PM - 03:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 102

Office: Dakin House Office, #207

Office hrs: Tuesday 12:15–1:45PM, Thursday 8:45-10:15AM, and by appointment.  

Course Description: This course questions the association of literature with cultural refinement. Why, for instance, has literature historically been fascinated with the grotesque body? Conversely, why have writers wishing to represent their loftiest beliefs been drawn to poetry and other forms of literary refinement? By comparing high-minded sentiments with their lower-minded counterparts, we will explore the varied terrain of literary culture. The aim is to understand literature’s complex stake in disputes about selfhood, gender, race, nation, politics, and most fundamentally, writing.

The class surveys the trajectory of British literary history from the late seventeenth century through the early twentieth century. An initial unit on “Satire and the Bawdy” establishes that the eighteenth-century values of taste and civility are inseparably linked to dullness, promiscuity, and irrationality. A subsequent unit on “Romantic Transcendence” examines late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century perspectives on the role of literature in a compromised world. Under the rubric of “Corruption and the Arts in Victorian England,” we go on to investigate Victorian-era ambivalence about whether literature promotes “sweetness and light,” as Matthew Arnold put it, or threatens a reader’s morals and values. The concluding discussion of “High Modernism and its Low Languages” locates the base appetites and social alienation that underwrites Modernist literary innovation.

Course Objectives:

Learning objectives:

- To reassess the association of literature with cultural refinement;

- To analyze literature’s stake in disputes about selfhood, gender, race, nation, politics, commerce, and writing;

- To survey the varied terrain of British literary history

Enduring goals: On completing this course, students are trained to:

- Identify major periods in the history of modern British Literature;

- Analyze the tensions that make a text complex;

- Complete assignments on time and interact with instructors during office hours –both key prerequisites for academic advancement at Hampshire;

- Develop the skills of close reading, critical writing, and engaged conversation that are necessary for college-level work;

Evaluation Criteria:

Course requirements: In order to receive an evaluation, a student must…

- Attend class and actively contribute to the discussion;

  • Absences: Students who miss three (3) classes without a medical excuse or other serious reason will not receive an evaluation.  Students are responsible for making up missed work. 

- Visit the instructor in office hours twice over the course of the semester; once before Fri Nov. 2nd and once after that point;

- Print out the readings posted on Moodle and bring them to class along with other required course texts;

- Provide discussion questions as assigned;

- Complete all papers by the assigned due dates;

  • A paper extension may be granted at the discretion of the instructor only if a student requests it more than twenty-four hours before the paper is due;
    • A student will receive no more than two extensions;
    • Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the instructor will not accept papers that are more than seven days late;
    • The instructor will not grant extensions on the final paper  

Evaluation Rubric: Writing and Research Cumulative Skills (link)

Additional Info:

Useful links:

Oxford English Dictionary

Romantic Circles Blog: Poets on Poets


To note about the schedule below: Asterisks (**) indicate that the reading is posted to Moodle.  Print out a hard copy of each e-text and bring it to class on the assigned day.