The Bread Loaf School of English

 

Oxford Campus, 2015 Courses

Group 2 (British Literature through the Seventeenth Century)

 

7901   Old English/J. Fyler

An introduction to the Old English language and literature, and to Anglo-Saxon culture. Like any course in a foreign language, this one requires a certain amount of memorization—of vocabulary and grammatical paradigms. But Old English is not that difficult to learn, and our emphasis will be literary. We will read a selection of prose works and lots of poetry, including "The Dream of the Rood," "The Battle of Maldon," and Beowulf. We will think about Beowulf in the context of similar European epics; please read the Iliad (ed. Fagles) and/or The Song of Roland (ed. Burgess) before the session begins. (This course carries one unit of Group 2 and one unit of Group 5 credit.)

Texts: Homer, The Iliad, trans. Robert Fagles (Penguin); The Song of Roland, trans.  Glyn Burgess (Penguin); The Anglo-Saxons, ed. James Campbell et al. (Penguin); Bruce Mitchell, An Invitation to Old English and Anglo-Saxon England (Wiley); Eight Old English Poems, ed. John C. Pope and Robert Fulk (Norton); Beowulf, ed. George Jack (Oxford).

 

7907   Chaucer/J. Fyler

This course offers a study of the major poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer. We will spend roughly two-thirds of our time on the Canterbury Tales and the other third on Chaucer’s most extraordinary poem, Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer is primarily a narrative rather than a lyric poet: though the analogy is an imperfect one, the Canterbury Tales is like a collection of short stories, and Troilus like a novel in verse. We will talk about Chaucer’s literary sources and contexts, the interpretation of his poetry, and his treatment of a number of issues, especially gender, that are of perennial interest.

Texts: The Riverside Chaucer, ed. L. D. Benson (Oxford or Houghton Mifflin); Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, trans. Richard Green (Martino); Woman Defamed and Woman Defended, ed. AlcuinBlamires (Oxford); Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, ed. Stephen Barney (Norton).

 

7912   What was the English Renaissance?/E. Smith

This course puts the literature of the sixteenth century into a broader artistic, intellectual, and social context. So we will read early experiments in prose fiction alongside new ideas about pictorial perspective, the popular form of the sonnet against Tudor ideas of portraiture, and the drama of dialogue in the light of innovative harmonic forms in music. We will work together on the questions of ‘English’ and of ‘Renaissance,’ exploring continental influences on the development of English culture and its understandings of nation, religion, and self. This is therefore a course requiring an openness to analyse arts other than the literary and an interest in literature in its historical and other contexts: if you are as keen to work on Thomas Tallis and Hans Holbein as on Thomas Wyatt and Edmund Spenser, and interested to read all kinds of forms from architecture and tombs to translations and entertainments, sign up. (Students should budget $150 for excursions to historic sites.)

Texts:Richard Tottel, Tottel’s Miscellany, ed. Amanda Holton and Tom McFaul (Penguin); any editions of the following: Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry and Astrophil and Stella; William Baldwin, Beware the Cat; Jasper Heywood, Thyestes; Charles Whitworth, Gammer Gurton’s Needle; Edmund Spenser, The Shepheardes Calendar.Other reading will be distributed in Oxford.

 

7917   Shakespeare’s Comedies/H. Barr

When in The Taming of the Shrew, Christopher Sly is offered a jolly comedy to lift his spirits, he expects frolic: a gymnastic tumble for a drunk in a slump. But Sly is not the sharpest theatre critic in the box. Shakespeare’s comedies compass man-eating bears, dead children, forced marriages, rape, political corruption, disease, and war. With dizzying comic brio, these ‘comedies’ trouble us to think afresh about the world we think we may know. They create an unsettling version of ‘reality’ that pressures normative versions of sexuality, religion, class, family, power, and race. Shakespearean comedy interrogates the work that comedy performs. Close reading of these plays will deploy insights from a variety of critical approaches: historicism, anthropology, queer theory, theatre performance, and film so that we can explore Shakespearean comedy with the critical seriousness it demands. A Good Sense of Humour would also be most welcome.

Texts: William Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Troilus and Cressida, The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest. Any good critical edition of single plays (New Arden, Cambridge, Oxford) would be invaluable to consult. If you want to buy a good edition that contains all of these plays, The Norton Shakespeare: Comedies is recommended.

 

7921   British Theater: Stage to Page to Stage/M. Cadden

This course will be based on theatrical productions we’ll attend in London, Stratford, and Oxford -- not, as is usually the case at Bread Loaf/Oxford, on the resources of the Bodleian Library. (Please note, this focus translates to substantial time on buses and additional class time.) We'll study the relationship between plays and theatrical institutions, past and present—with an emphasis on current "institutions" such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the West End, as well as fringe groups. A complete reading list will be available (and circulated to enrolled students) once the season is fully announced. With luck, we’ll be seeing work spanning the centuries and the world, as produced for a twenty-first-century audience. As the second half of the course’s title suggests, we’ll be interrogating the approach to performance that argues that the “page” somehow precedes the “stage.” Enrolled students will be charged a supplemental course fee of $800 to cover the costs of tickets and transportation. (This course carries one unit of Group 2 and one unit of Group 3 credit.)

Tickets have already been arranged for Shakespeare's Othello and The Merchant of Venice, Marlowe's The Jew of Malta and Jonson's Volpone at the RSC. Students should purchase the Oxford Shakespeare or New Cambridge editions of the Shakespeare plays and the New Mermaid versions of The Jew of Malta and Volpone. Students should also read Mark Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. We'll have a chance to see the stage version in Oxford.

 

 

Group 3 (British Literature since the Seventeenth Century)


7921   British Theater: Stage to Page to Stage/M. Cadden

See description under Group 2 offerings. This course carries one unit of Group 2 credit and one unit of Group 3 credit.

 

7940   The City and the Country in British Literature, 1700-1800/C. Gerrard

How did writers and artists respond to the rapid growth of metropolitan culture during the eighteenth century, and the corresponding social and aesthetic changes reflected in the English countryside? This course will explore the way in which the expansion of London encouraged the rise of print culture, metropolitan leisure and fashionable pursuits, financial markets, and social mobility, and how these were depicted in a range of urban spaces; and how writers imagined the countryside as locus for social stability, honest labour, contemplation and imagination. We will be reading periodicals, poetry, prose, and drama, with an emphasis on poetic forms.

Texts:  Eighteenth-Century Poetry: An Annotated Anthology, 3rded., ed. David Fairer and Christine Gerrard (Wiley Blackwell); The Commerce of Everyday Life: Selections from the Spectator and the Tatler, ed. Erin Mackie (Bedford/St. Martin’s).

 

7950   Atlantic Crossings: Anglo-American Literary Relations, 1798–1900/C Gerrard

See description under Group 4 offerings. This course carries one unit of Group 3 and one unit of Group 4 credit.

 

7975   James Joyce/J. Johnson

Students will engage in intensive study of Ulysses in its Hiberno-European, modernist, and Joycean contexts. We will begin by reading both Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (and Joyce's poetry, critical essays, Stephen Hero, Exiles, Giacomo Joyce, and Finnegans Wake will all be incorporated into discussions), but the course will be primarily devoted to the reading and study of Ulysses. This work's centrality to, yet deviation from, the aesthetic and political preoccupations of modernism will be explored.

Primary Texts: James Joyce, Dubliners (any ed.); A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (any ed.); Ulysses (H. W. Gabler ed., Vintage). Supplementary Texts: Stephen Hero, Exiles, Giacomo Joyce, Finnegans Wake, and Poems and Shorter Writings, ed. Richard Ellmann, A. Walton Litz, and John Whittier-Ferguson (Faber). (Students are not expected to buy the supplementary texts.)

 

7980   The Modern(ist) Novel/J. Johnson

T. S. Eliot, reviewing Ulysses, hesitated to describe the book as a "novel": "If it is not a novel, that is simply because the novel is a form which will no longer serve; it is because the novel, instead of being a form, was simply the expression of an age which had not sufficiently lost all form to feel the need of something stricter." Victorian society had itself a "form" and so could make use of that "loose baggy monster," the novel. Modernity, being itself formless, needed something more. Taking issue with Eliot’s diagnosis of the novel’s unfitness for modern purposes, the premise of this course will be that in the hands of the moderniststhe novel flourished. Ironically, the very unfitness of the Victorian novel for the expression of what Hardy called "the ache of modernism" stimulated the modernists to experiment, adapt, innovate. The result is one of the richest periods in the history of narrative fiction. We begin with Hardy’s "ache" and end with the "—" of which its author wrote, "I have an idea that I will invent a new name for my books to supplant 'novel.' A new — by Virginia Woolf. But what? Elegy?" 

Primary Texts: Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891; Norton Critical); Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891; Norton Critical); Henry James, The Ambassadors (1900; Norton Critical); Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent (1907; any ed.); Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915; Norton Critical); James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ed. H. W. Gabler (1916; Vintage); D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love (1920; any ed.); Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927; any ed.). Everyone will be expected to read, independently, at least two other novels from a longer list available in Oxford. Secondary Text: The Narrative Reader, ed. Martin McQuillan (Routledge).

 

7995   Reinventing the Past:  Neo Victorian Returns/C. Kaplan

See description under Group 5 offerings. This course carries one unit of Group 3 credit and one unit of Group 5 credit.

 

Group 4 (American Literature)


7950   Atlantic Crossings: Anglo-American Literary Relations, 1798–1900/C. Gerrard

This course aims to explore the crosscurrents and interconnections within British and American literary cultures of the nineteenth century. By looking at key texts across a wide variety of genres and modes, including epic, romance, the gothic, realism, and naturalism, we will examine the sometimes tense and competitive relationship between American authors and British cultural models. We will explore a variety of themes, including American innocence and European "sophistication"; landscape and nature; history; self-reliance and community; sin, guilt and the "double self." We will conduct seminars around key pairings or groupings of pivotal British and American texts, supplemented by other contemporary materials. (This course carries one unit of Group 3 credit and one unit of Group 4 credit.)

Texts: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Ryme of the Ancient Mariner(1798); Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851); William Wordsworth, The Prelude (2-book version of 1799) and "Westminster Bridge" (1802); Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854); Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself," "As I ebb'd with the Ocean of Life" and "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818); Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Huntly (1799); Edgar Allan Poe, Selected Tales (1837), especially "William Wilson," "The Fall of the House of Usher," “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat”; Wordsworth, "The Thorn" (1798); Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (1850) and “Young Goodman Brown”; George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (1860); Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1899); Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905). Most of these texts are readily available in Oxford World’s Classics editions or Penguin editions. There is an Easy Read or a Hackett edition of Edgar Huntly, ed. Philip Barnard.

 

7987   The American Novel after 1945/L. Pratt
Taking up a range of novelists, as well as some of the most influential criticism on the novel genre and key historical accounts of the period, we will seek to understand how the novel genre has been conceived and reconceived by American writers across the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries. We will consider the persistence of the bildungsroman across a range of cultural and historical traditions; the differing relations to the realist tradition in the novel that emerge from changing conceptions of political life; the varied notions of faith that persist in the increasingly post-secular society of the United States after WWII; the emergence of “play” as a central concern of the novel form; widespread experiences of displacement in the Americas; and the role of the historical novel in offering an alternative to other forms of history-telling.

Texts:  James Baldwin, Another Country (Penguin); Eudora Welty, The Optimist's Daughter (Virago); Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (Vintage); Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood (Faber & Faber); Don DeLillo, White Noise (Picador); Thomas Pynchon, Crying of Lot 49 (Vintage); Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake (Harper); Richard Wright, Black Boy (Vintage); Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Faber & Faber); Edward P. Jones, The Known World (Harper); Philip Roth, Nemesis (Vintage); Michael McKeon, ed., Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach (Johns Hopkins). 

 

Group 5 (World Literature)

 

7901   Old English/J. Fyler

See description under Group 2 offerings. This course carries one unit of Group 2 credit and one unit of Group 5 credit.

 

7995   Reinventing the Past:  Neo Victorian Returns/C. Kaplan

This course explores the twentieth- and twenty-first-century appetite for reimagining nineteenth-century Britain, celebrating and critiquing it in fiction, film, television, fine art, and biography. Thinking about the appeal of historical fiction and pastiche for late twentieth- and twenty–first-century writers has been one element of this broader phenomenon, while examining novels, biography, and visual texts as part of postmodernism and its later evolutions is another. How far do Neo Victorian novels, biographies, and films differ from more traditional kinds of narrative? Why has the nature of authorship and the figure of the author become so central to these modern depictions? How do the formal innovations of the Neo Victorian, especially its deliberate blurring of genres, contribute to the ever-changing nature of public memory and cultural nostalgia? These are some of the questions that will be central to this course. (The course carries one unit of Group 3 credit and one unit of Group 5 credit.)

Texts:  Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (1860); Peter Carey, Jack Maggs (1997); Lloyd Jones, Mr. Pip (2006); Claire Tomalin, The Invisible Woman (1990); Ralph Fiennes, The Invisible Woman (film, 2013); Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847); Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966); D.M. Thomas, Charlotte: The Final Journey of Jane Eyre (2000); Paula Rego, Jane Eyre (lithograph series, 2003); Henry James, "The Figure in the Carpet" (short story, 1896); Colm Tóibín, The Master (2004); David Lodge, Author, Author (2004); Charles Darwin, Autobiographies, ed. Michael Neve and Sharon Messenger (Penguin Classics, 2002); Jon Amiel, Creation (film, 2009); A.S. Byatt, Possession (1990);Jane Campion, The Piano (film, 1993); Sarah Waters, Fingersmith (2002). Any editions of the above texts are acceptable, except where indicated. The films and Paula Rego’s lithograph series will be available to students at Oxford, as will additional primary and critical reading. There will be scope in the course for independent work on related Neo Victorian texts and topics.