Seminar: The 19th Century

ENGLISH LITERATURE 519

This class begins with two seminal Modernist portraits of the artist, one a writer, the other a painter (Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" and Woolf's "To the Lighthouse"), and then returns to a more detailed reading of a fifty-year period from the 1840s to 1890s to ask how artists of all kinds became prominent characters in literary works. Primary texts to include poetry by Alfred Tennyson and Robert Browning, as well as fictions by Wilkie Collins, Henry James, George Gissing, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling and the only recently canonized Amy Levy. We will foreground the historical forces, events, and technological developments that allowed the artist to become, by various accounts, both a sacred figure with a substantial social agency as well as a new name for the outcast, alien, or social deviant. While engaging with the aesthetic as a category with an ancient lineage, we will also emphasize a more local context defined by global commercial modernity and unsettled gender norms.
Course Attributes: