The Junior Seminars in criticism are intended especially for moderated junior literature majors. The seminars will introduce students to current thinking in the field, emphasizing how particular methods and ideas can be employed in linking literary texts to their contexts. Intended too is a deep exploration of writing about literature at some length, in the form of a 20-25 page paper, developed over the course of most of the semester.



LIT 3043


Alexandre Benson

   Th       3:10 pm-5:30 pm

HEG 106



This course follows the mutations of a career, Herman Melville's, that produced both hugely popular adventure novels and commercially disastrous narrative experiments. The latter category includes Moby-Dick; or, the Whale, to which we will devote extended time mid-semester. Topics of interest, both to us and to the other scholars we will read, will include race, law, sexuality, and the nonhuman environment -- all while keeping our eyes on Melville's distinctive aesthetics. To explore those topics, we will put Melville in conversation with artists who have adapted his works (e.g., Orson Welles); with writers who have theorized American democracy and the African diaspora in ways resonant with his thinking (e.g., Harriet Jacobs and C. L. R. James, who wrote a seminal work of Melville criticism while detained on Ellis Island); and with other historical figures, particularly on the Pacific Rim, whose lives have been closely bound to the history of whaling (e.g., John Manjiro). This is a Junior Seminar, and as such we will devote substantial time to methods of research, writing, and revision.   Class size: 15



LIT 337

 RADICAL ROMANTICISM: THE Work of Percy Bysshe Shelley

Cole Heinowitz

  W          1:30 pm-3:50 pm

OLIN 101



Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was a radical nonconformist in every aspect of his life. At the age of 18, he was expelled from Oxford for distributing his pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism. Soon after, he published Queen Mab, a long poem that indicted organized religion as the root of all evil and prophesied the emergence of a post-moral utopia. The following year, Shelley eloped to Italy with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the future author of Frankenstein. Living in self-imposed exile for the remainder of his life, Shelley produced some of the most poetically and ideologically challenging literature in English. In addition to a close study of Shelley’s work, this seminar will examine the major influences on his thought, from Plato to Schelling, as well as Shelley’s impact on nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophers, from Marx to Levinas.  This is a Junior Seminar, and as such we will devote substantial time to methods of research, writing, and revision.  Class size: 15



LIT 364

 Shakespeare Seminar: hamlet & lear

Lianne Habinek

 T            1:30 pm-3:50 pm

OLIN 309



In this course, we’ll tackle two of the most fascinating, perplexing, and enduring plays of all time: Hamlet and King Lear.  We will focus on the content of the plays, but our work will be greatly enriched with a number of different critical lenses.  Book history (the study of the development of printing and publishing) is one such lens: multiple strikingly different versions of each play are extant from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, so part of our focus will be to investigate and evaluate each text to discover what meaning the dissimilarities reveal.  We will also examine both plays generically, alongside other examples of revenge tragedy and historical tragedy, and alongside other Shakespearean plays.  Critics and theorists have puzzled over both plays since their publication, so we will consider various approaches to textual analysis.  Finally, we will engage with the vast and exciting number of performances of Hamlet and Lear, both on stage and film.  This is a Junior Seminar, and as such we will devote substantial time to methods of research, writing, and revision.  Class size: 15