Marion Wells

Associate Professor of English and American Literatures

 Spring Term: Monday and Wednesday 1:30-3:00, Tuesday and Thursday 8:30-10:00, Friday 9:00-10:00, and by appointment
 Axinn Center at Starr Library 313

Marion Wells is a member of the English and American Literatures Department and is also affiliated with the Women and Gender Studies Program at Middlebury College.  She has a BA in Classics and Modern Languages from Oxford University and a PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale University. Her areas of special interest are early modern English and Italian Literature, classical literature, gender studies, and the history of medicine. She enjoys teaching a wide range of courses at Middlebury, including introductory courses in English literature, advanced courses in early modern literature, and courses focusing on the intersection of literary and gender studies. In 2007 Stanford University published her book on the relationship between melancholy and romance, entitled The Secret Wound: Love-Melancholy and Early Modern Romance.  She is currently at work on a book on the cultural and literary representations of maternity, tentatively entitled The Nightingale’s Song: Maternal Voices in Early Modern Europe. Professor Wells lives in Weybridge with her husband, John, and their two sons, Theo and Toby.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

CMLT0101 - Intro to World Literature      

Introduction to World Literature
This course is an introduction to the critical analysis of imaginative literature of the world, the dissemination of themes and myths, and the role of translation as the medium for reaching different cultures. Through the careful reading of selected classic texts from a range of Western and non-Western cultures, students will deepen their understanding and appreciation of the particular texts under consideration, while developing a critical vocabulary with which to discuss and write about these texts, both as unique artistic achievements of individual and empathetic imagination and as works affected by, but also transcending their historical periods. 3 hrs. lect./disc. CMP CW LIT

Spring 2013

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CMLT0700 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
Approval required.

Spring 2015

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CRWR0560 - Special Project: Writing      

Special Project: Creative Writing
Approval Required.

Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

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CRWR0701 - Senior Thesis:Creative Writing      

Senior Thesis: Creative Writing
Discussions, workshops, tutorials for those undertaking one-term projects in the writing of fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction.

Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

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CRWR0711 - Senior Thesis: Creative Writ.      

Senior Thesis: Creative Writing
Discussions, workshops, tutorials for those undertaking two-term projects in the writing of fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. (Formerly ENAM 0711)

Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014

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ENAM0103 - Reading Literature      

Reading Literature
Please refer to each section for specific course descriptions. CW LIT

Fall 2013

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ENAM0201 - British Lit. and Culture I      

British Literature and Culture (I) (Pre-1800)
Topic is determined by the instructor - refer to section for the course description. EUR LIT

Fall 2014, Fall 2016

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ENAM0204 - Foundations of English Lit.      

Foundations of English Literature (I) (Pre-1800)
Students will study Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Milton's Paradise Lost, as well as other foundational works of English literature that may include Shakespeare, non-Shakespearean Elizabethan drama, the poetry of Donne, and other 16th- and 17th-century poetry. 3 hrs. lect./disc. EUR LIT

Spring 2014, Spring 2015

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ENAM0302 / WAGS0302 - Unquiet Minds:Gender & Madness      

Unquiet Minds: Gender and Madness in Literature and Medicine (I)
In this course we will explore the fascinating intersection of gender, literature, and medicine from the Greeks to the present day, focusing in particular on the early modern period. We will consider why and how such diseases as melancholy and hysteria became flashpoints for anxieties about gender and sexuality in this period, turning to both literary and medical narratives to illuminate the troubled interface between mind and body in the social construction of melancholic illness. Alongside literary texts that dramatize mental illness (such as Chrétien's Yvain and Shakespeare's Hamlet) we will read sections from Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy as well as the recently published account by a 17th century woman of her own private struggles with madness. We will conclude with a consideration of contemporary texts that explore the experience of madness, including Kay Redfield Jamison's memoir An Unquiet Mind and Sarah Ruhl's Melancholy Play. In this final section we will also explore the work being done in the exciting emerging field of "narrative medicine," which brings together literature and medicine in quite explicit and strategic ways. CMP EUR LIT

Spring 2013

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ENAM0305 / CMLT0305 - Love Stories      

Love Stories: Desire & Gender in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (I)
Our modern conceptions of desire, self, body and gender are informed in complex and often invisible ways by earlier narratives of love. We will investigate the conflicting accounts of love written during the medieval and early modern periods, considering in particular the relationship between the idealized notion of "courtly love" and the darker, medical picture of love as a form of madness or melancholia. Reading a variety of works including lyric, drama, romance and medical texts, we will look at the construction of gender and sexuality, the relationship between desire and subjectivity, and the gendering of certain "diseases" of love (such as hysteria) during this period. Authors to be studied will include: Chaucer, Boccaccio, Petrarch, Dante, Shakespeare, and a selection of male and female lyric poets. 3 hrs. lect./disc. EUR LIT

Spring 2015

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ENAM0419 / GSFS0419 - Gender, Power and Politics      

Gender, Power, and Politics on the Early Modern Stage (I) (Pre-1800)
In this class we will explore the representation of embodiment on the early modern stage, considering as we do so how theatrical embodiment intersects with other treatments of the body in early modern culture. As we consider the representation of the gendered body on stage or in so-called "closet" dramas, we will read both early modern and contemporary theoretical accounts of gender as performance, investigating among other issues the use of boy actors, the representation of specifically "female" disorders (e.g., "suffocation" or hysteria), the performance of maternity, the portrayal of female "voice" or vocality, and the treatment of same-sex eroticism. We will also study the dramatic use of related cultural codes pertaining to betrothal, marriage, cross-dressing, and sexual slander. Primary readings will include: Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, Webster's Duchess of Malfi, Cary's Tragedy of Mariam, and Cavendish's Convent of Pleasure. Historical sources will include midwifery manuals, conduct books, medical treatises on hysteria, and legal accounts of betrothal and marriage. 3 hrs. lect. EUR LIT

Spring 2014, Spring 2017

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ENAM0500 - Special Project: Lit      

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required.

Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Spring 2017

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ENAM0700 - Senior Thesis:Critical Writing      

Senior Thesis: Critical Writing
Individual guidance and seminar (discussions, workshops, tutorials) for those undertaking one-term projects in literary criticism or analysis. All critical thesis writers also take the Senior Thesis Workshop (ENAM 700Z) in either Fall or Spring Term.

Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

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ENAM0710 - Senior Thesis: Critical Writ.      

Senior Thesis: Critical Writing
Individual guidance and seminar (discussions, workshops, tutorials) for those undertaking two-term projects in literary criticism or analysis. All critical thesis writers also take the thesis workshop (ENAM 710z) in both Fall and Spring terms.

Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014

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FYSE1371 - Virginia Woolf in Context      

Virginia Woolf in Context
In this seminar we will focus on the novels, essays, and short stories of Virginia Woolf, considering them in the light of her social, political, and artistic contexts and commitments. We will explore in particular the tension in her work between Victorian values and aesthetics and the progressive goals of the modernist movement. Our readings will take us from the early novels (Voyage Out, Night and Day) to the later experimental works (To the Lighthouse, Orlando, The Waves). Some of the topics central to the seminar will be Woolf’s engagement with modernism and its key figures (such as James Joyce); her treatment of gender and sexuality in her essays and elsewhere; and her struggles with mental illness. We will intersperse our reading of Woolf’s prose with consideration of some film versions of her work, and we will conclude the seminar with a reading of Michael Cunningham’s 1998 creative homage to Mrs. Dalloway: The Hours. CW EUR LIT

Fall 2016

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Comparative Literature Program

Axinn Center at Starr Library
15 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753