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Course Information

Instructor Info:Daniel Block
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
12:30 PM - 01:50 PM Emily Dickinson Hall (EDH) 4
12:30 PM - 01:50 PM Emily Dickinson Hall (EDH) 4

This writing intensive course examines the equivocal meaning of community across British literary history and at Hampshire College.  To what extent is community a positive value, we ask?  In what ways do conflict and hostility make community possible?  How does literature represent existing forms of community and imagine alternatives? 

To address these questions, the seminar explores a range of topics: among them, Shakespeare’s dramatization of the bond between master and slave, Hobbes’s claim that sovereign power must quell a violent state of nature, Swift’s misanthropy, Mary Shelley’s limited sympathy for the non-human, and Austen’s blurred line between life and literature. 

Along the way, students practice the skills of literary analysis while also completing a range of non-traditional writing assignments to document their experience of community.  Through experiential learning, students reflect on their activity at Hampshire and beyond to generate fresh perspectives on British literary history.  Conversely, the readings provide students with a lens for reexamining their own communities. 

Course Objectives:

Learning objectives:

  • To develop the core skills of engaged conversation, close reading, comparative analysis, and evaluating theory;
  • To document our activity in the community;
  • To reflect on the social context of literature and the literariness of community engagement

Enduring goals: On completing this course, students are able…

  • To address the integral relationship between life and literature;
  • To identify major periods in the history of modern British Literature;
  • To complete assignments on time and interact with the instructor during office hours – both key prerequisites for academic advancement at Hampshire;
  • To practice the skills of close reading, critical writing, and engaged conversation that are necessary for college-level work;
Evaluation Criteria:

see syllabus

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