300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-1400
PhD University of California, Berkeley
BA University of Texas at Austin
Nineteenth-Century British Literature
The nineteenth century is known as an era of “separate spheres”: behavioral norms that broadly excluded women from public life and space. Yet Britain and its empire was also ruled for much of the century by the most powerful queen the world had witnessed in centuries. This class explores paradoxes of gender in the age of first-wave feminism, and how nineteenth-century constructions of femininity intersected with contemporaneous questions of race, class, and sexuality.
Is reading children’s literature work or play? From novels as distinct as The Governess; or The Little Female Academy (1749) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1997) and The Hate U Give (2017), the genre has long navigated the poles of education and entertainment, socializing children alternately as miniature adults, docile innocents, or imaginative rebels. After spending the semester surveying didactic primers, fairytale fantasies, beloved classics, and curious outliers from the Golden Age of children’s literature, we’ll end by asking how modern YA fiction upholds or subverts earlier ideals of childhood. Along the way, we will analyze the social, historical, and pedagogical contexts of our objects of study and ponder the surprisingly large philosophical, psychological, and aesthetic questions raised by these seemingly small texts.
For centuries, writers have grappled with a surprisingly thorny task: how to capture ordinary experience in art. Adopting a “realist” approach to life and literature, they ask: How should we represent reality? What counts as “ordinary?” Whose perspectives are portrayed? This course explores novels, poetry, and visual art that seek to hold a mirror to the world and ends by considering realism’s curious tenacity in modern genres like cinematic neorealism, documentaries, sitcoms, reality TV, and social media.
Audiences were divided between rapture and revulsion when three previously unknown sisters—Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë—began to publish wildly popular novels in mid-nineteenth-century Britain. Ever since, their works have remained current through a constant stream of (re)adaptations. How have the Brontë sisters stayed so popular? How did these young women engage with the social problems of their era? Alongside a selection of novels, we will read a variety of poems, childhood writings, and reviews.
The function of a university, argued W. E. B. Du Bois in 1903, is “to be the organ of that fine adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life, an adjustment which forms the secret of civilization.” How did that ideal arise, and does it hold true today? Popular culture imagines the college campus alternately as an idyllic bubble, the wellspring of groundbreaking research, a site of vigorous debate, and more. Academia is often juxtaposed to the so-called “real world”—except when it is seen as a place to immerse oneself in life’s most vital questions. This course will ask how these diverse visions of the university are intertwined with its historical emergence and contemporary role in society. How have the missions of higher education changed over time? What critical issues confront universities today? And do depictions of college life in fiction and film resonate or jar with your own experiences this fall?
ArticleThe Global New Woman and the Invention of Modern Feminism.