Sleuths & Specters of C19 & Forms of Reading
Texts for the course will largely consist of short fiction, but poetry, a novella, theory, literary criticism, & a film screening will also be assigned.
The course will provide students with three different axes to approach the reading of literature: 1) close reading of language & structure v. distant reading’s appraisal of genre & historical development 2) symptomatic reading for political & psychological ramifications in a text v. reparative reading for aesthetic & emotional pleasures 3) approaches focused on time & narrative v. approaches focused on space & setting
The genres in question will be ghost and detective fictions. Both arose at similar points during 19th century modernity. Both are pleasurable sources of reading. Both favor as settings bourgeois domiciles under perceived sieges. Both pose doubled narratives, whether the story of the crime & the story of the detection of the crime or the story of the haunting & the origin of the ghost.
The course satisfies UW’s W (writing) requirement: students will submit two 5-7 page papers with revisions (one due at mid-term, one due at the end of the term). Other assignments may include small research assignments, short in-class or homework writing assignments, or a presentation. The course also satisfies the VLPA (visual, literary, and performing arts) requirement as well as English majors' pre-1900 requirement.
Required texts: Course packet
A Century of Detection: Twenty Great Mystery Stories, 1841–1940 Ed. John Cullen Gruesser (0786446501)
The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories: From Gaskell to Bierce Ed. Michael Newton (0141442360)
Ghost Stories of Henry James Ed. Martin Scofield (1840220708)