Ryan Sheldon
Office
Axinn Center 301
Tel
(802) 443-3622
Email
rsheldon@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Fall 2023: Mon/Weds 2:15-3:15; Thurs 12:30-1:30. On Zoom if necessary.
Additional Programs
English

Courses Taught

Course Description

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

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Creative Derivation: Rewriting, Remaking, and Unmaking Literature
The American experimental poet Robert Duncan famously described his work as “derivative.” His contemporary, Ronald Johnson, once remarked: “I read to steal.” In this course we will take these articulations of reading-focused poetics as a premise for surveying seventeenth- through twenty-first-century literature that enacts the reading of other texts; repurposes the narratives and terms of canonical or hegemonic writing; or uses critique as a means of generative engagement. Along the way, we will consider the stakes of rewriting or reworking texts across cultural, historical, generic, and formal distances. Students will be invited to pursue creative final projects. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

LIT

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Course Description

Commerce of the World-Century Literature (Pre-1800)
British society, politics, and culture shifted dramatically over the course of the eighteenth century in response to the ascendance of an empowered mercantile bourgeoisie, an expanding empire, and the intensification of its investments in the transatlantic slave trade. In this course we will explore how writers and thinkers grappled with these economic, social, and political transformations at the levels of narrative, form, and genre by reading novels, plays, poems, and essays by Aphra Behn, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Susanna Centlivre, Laurence Sterne, Olaudah Equiano, and others. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Revolt and Rebellion in Long Eighteenth Century Literature
The long eighteenth century is replete with uprisings, rebellions, and revolutions. In this course we will think about why the event of the revolt, especially in colonial contexts, proved intriguing for British writers and thinkers throughout the period. How did representing historical and imagined uprisings alike enable Britons to diagnose social and political problems? When and why does it become permissible to revolt? What makes a revolutionary subject? Authors include: John Milton, John Locke, Aphra Behn, Ottobah Cugoano, Helen Maria Williams, and Mary Shelley. Critical/theoretical interlocutors might include Laura Brown, Susan Buck-Morss, C.L.R. James, and Anthony Paul Farley. Pre-1800. (REC) 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Reading Literature
Please refer to each section for specific course descriptions.(Formerly ENAM 0103)

Terms Taught

Spring 2023, Fall 2023

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Forms of Enlightenment: Long Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture (Pre-1800)
In this course, we will explore the development of literary genres, forms, and institutions in long eighteenth-century (1660-1830) Britain and its empire. We will track how writers in the period reimagined knowledge production, social organization, and politics in print. As we consider the key questions of the moment—the relationships between sensations, ideas, and truth; between reason, sympathy, and self-interest—we will attend carefully to the contradictions, exclusions, and omissions that structure Enlightenment thought, particularly with respect to questions of race and colonialism. Authors might include Aphra Behn, Henry Neville, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Sarah Scott, Adam Smith, Olaudah Equiano, Ignatius Sancho, Edmund Burke, and Phillis Wheatley Peters. 3 hrs. lect./disc. (Formerly ENAM 0225)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Fall 2023

Requirements

EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Literature and Economy: Credit, Speculation, Fiction
Beyond its engagements with the political economy of its day, Karl Marx’s Capital is rich with allusions to literary texts—among them Dante’s Inferno, Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. In this course we will explore the imaginative aspects of classical economic thought and the economically descriptive capacities of literature. We will track their common interests in concepts of belief, credibility, and abstraction by looking (primarily) at a period that witnessed the emergence of political economy and modern literary forms like the novel—the eighteenth century. Along the way, we will hazard answers to the following question: in an age of rampant inequality and financialization, what can we learn from representations of historical crises, bubbles, and class struggles? 3 hrs. sem

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

EUR, LIT, PHL

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Course Description

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required. (Formerly ENAM 0500)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

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. (Formerly ENAM 0700)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

Abolitionism(s): Then and Now
In this course, we will explore the intersections between historical campaigns to abolish the transatlantic slave trade and chattel slavery throughout the British empire and contemporary American movements to abolish policing and prisons. We’ll pay particular attention to the roles that literary and artistic representations, political speech, and activist organizing play in these processes, and consider how they complement or clash with on-the-ground resistance. We’ll ask: what does the history of abolitionism tell us about the horizons of an abolitionist future? Our guides will range from Olaudah Equiano and Mary Prince to Mariame Kaba, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Olúfẹmi Táíwò.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SOC

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