Marion Wells

Henry N. Hudson Professor of English and American Literatures and Co-Director of Humanities

 work(802) 443-2443
 Fall Term Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 1:00-2:30 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]

CMLT 0700 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
A senior thesis is normally completed over two semesters. During Fall and Winter terms, or Winter and Spring terms, students will write a 35-page (article length) comparative essay, firmly situated in literary analysis. Students are responsible for identifying and arranging to work with their primary language and secondary language readers, and consulting with the program director before completing the CMLT Thesis Declaration form. (Approval required.)

Spring 2018, Fall 2019

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CRWR 0560 - Special Project: Writing      

Special Project: Creative Writing
Approval Required.

Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020

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CRWR 0701 - 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.

Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020

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ENAM 0103 - Reading Literature      

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

Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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ENAM 0114 / GSFS 0114 - Reading Women's Writing      

Reading Women's Writing: Living a Feminist Life from Mary Wollstonecraft to Sara Ahmed
In this course we will investigate the tradition of women's writing in English from the sixteenth century to the present day, focusing on the complex relationships among writing, sexuality, race, and gender. We will consider the ways in which writers identifying as female respond to--and often subvert--traditional literary themes and conventions, looking critically as we do so at our own interpretive assumptions as readers. An organizing focus of our reading will be the articulation and/or suppression of female anger and other related emotions in a variety of repressive contexts. Though our focus will be primarily on the interpretation of literary works, we will also develop an awareness of relevant debates in feminist theory, from Mary Wollstonecraft’s revolutionary contribution to notions of female education to Sara Ahmed’s concept of the feminist “killjoy.” Other texts may include: Jane Austen, Mansfield Park; Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway; Toni Morrison, Sula; Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions; Brittney Cooper, Eloquent Rage; Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties; Kristen Roupenian, You Know You Want This, Rebecca Traister, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. 3 hrs. sem. LIT

Spring 2020

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ENAM 0201 - 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 2016, Fall 2018

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ENAM 0302 / GSFS 0302 - Unquiet Minds:Gender & Madness      

Unquiet Minds: Gender and Madness in Literature and Medicine (I) (Pre-1800)
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

Fall 2017

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ENAM 0419 / GSFS 0419 - Gender,Power,Politics on Stage      

Gender, Power, and Politics on the Early Modern Stage (I) (Pre-1800)
In this class we will explore the representation of gendered 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. 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, and the treatment of same-sex eroticism. Of particular importance will be the representation of the articulate or angry woman as the “shrew” or “scold,” and we will begin the class with an investigation of so-called “shrew-taming” narratives. Primary readings will include: Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and The Winter’s Tale, Webster’s Duchess of Malfi, and Cavendish’s Convent of Pleasure. We will end the semester with a look at how this material plays out in our current political moment, focusing in particular on the representation of Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Christine Blasey Ford. 3 hrs. sem. EUR LIT

Spring 2017, Fall 2019

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ENAM 0500 - Special Project: Lit      

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required.

Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020

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ENAM 0700 - 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.

Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020

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FYSE 1371 - 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, Spring 2018

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INTD 0210 / EDST 0210 - Sophomore Seminar/Liberal Arts      

Sophomore Seminar in the Liberal Arts
This course is designed for sophomores who are interested in exploring the meaning and the purpose of a liberal arts education. To frame this investigation, we will use the question "What is the good life and how shall I live it?" Through an interdisciplinary and multicultural array of readings and films we will engage our course question through intellectual discussion, written reflection, and personal practice. There will be significant opportunities for public speaking and oral presentation, as well as regular writing assignments, including a formal poster presentation. Readings will include reflections on a liberal arts education in the U.S. (Emerson, Brann, Nussbaum, Oakeshott, Ladsen-Billings, bell hooks); on "the good life" (excerpts from Aristotle, sacred texts of different traditions); on social science analyses of contemporary life; texts on the neuroscience of happiness; as well as literary and cinematic representations of lives well-lived. CMP

Spring 2018

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Department of English & American Literatures

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