ENGL 529 B: Topics In Nineteenth-Century Studies

Religion, Secularization, and Literature

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
Location: 
THO 215
SLN: 
14463
Instructor:
LaPorte photo
Charles LaPorte

Syllabus Description:

Professor Charles LaPorte (laporte@uw.edu)

English 529B: Religion, Secularization, and Literature

MW 1:30-3:20 / THO 215 / Office Hours MW 3:30-4:20 or by appt.

 

            Religion has always had an outsized influence upon anglophone literature, and yet until the recent "religious turn" in literary studies, it was also somewhat neglected. The Marxist critic Terry Eagleton does not exaggerate much when he states that, "Almost every cultural theorist today passes over in silence some of the most vital beliefs and activities of billions of ordinary men and women, simply because they happen not to be to their personal taste."

            This course introduces students to "the religious turn" in literary studies, and it pursues the literary and cultural implications of secularization and religion (especially evangelical religion) as they relate to literature and as they come down to us from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It will investigate a new scholarly consensus about the vigor of nineteenth-century religion but will also focus upon religious conflict, especially in the period surrounding Darwin's The Origin of Species. It further will explore competing paradigms for secularization, such as that of the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, who writes of secularization as a condition of modern life that helps to constitute modern selfhood and that (at least historically) brings about both the destabilization and recomposition of religious forms. Readings will be drawn chiefly from a British context, but American, European, and imperial parallels will be unmistakable and frequent.

            Students need not have a background in religious studies, nor in literary studies. Expect primary readings to range widely, from science to philosophy, fiction, and poetry.

 

Requirements:

Course grades will be determined by course participation (including, of course, attendance), a brief (10 min tops!) presentation on a topic of relevance to course discussion, a short review of a nineteenth-century review (I'll explain), and a final paper of 10-12 pages (i.e. conference length). You will need to turn in a 350-word abstract and one-page bibliography for this paper by Nov 9. Plan to share your progress with the group on the following Monday.

 

Texts:

Collins & Rundle, Broadview Anthology of Victorian Poetry and Poetic Theory (bvp)

Tennyson, ed. A Carlyle Reader (Copley: isbn; 1-58390-008-X)

Taylor, A Secular Age (Harvard)

Charlotte Brontë, Shirley (Penguin)

Behlman & Longmuir, Victorian Literature: Criticism and Debates (Routledge) vlcd

Appleton, ed. Darwin (Norton)

  1. B. Shaw, Major Barbara (Penguin)

James, Varieties of Religious Experience (Penguin)

 

Coursepack (CP) soon to be available at Ram Copy Center

Selected pdf e-mailings (pdf)

 

Schedule:[1]

 

Week 1:

Wed, Sept 28: Course Introduction: Is Jane Eyre a secular book?

 

Week 2:

Mon, Oct 3: Robin Gilmour, "Intro" and "The Sense of Time and the Uses of History" (pdf); Alfred Tennyson, "Supposed Confessions," "Mariana," "The Kraken," "The Lady of Shalott," "St. Simeon Stylites," "Ulysses," "Tithonus," "The Higher Pantheism" (bvp) [Recommended: Eagleton, The Rise of English (pdf); LaPorte, "Victorian Lit, Religion, and Secularization"]

 

Wed, Oct 5: Taylor, Secular Age, intro., ch 1; Thomas Carlyle, Characteristics (cr); Felicia Hemans, all from bvp; Fessenden: "The Secular as Opposed to What?" (CP) [Recommended: McLeod, Religion and Society intro + chs 1 and 2 (pdf)] Snacks by Charles

 

Week 3:

Mon, Oct 10: James Kugel, from How to Read the Bible (CP); R. Crumb, from The Book of Genesis (cp); W. Robertson Smith "The Bible" from Encycl. Brittanica 1875 (http://hdl.handle.net/2027/nyp.33433000974620?urlappend=%3Bseq=650); Carlyle, from Sartor Resartus (cr)

 

Wed, Oct 12: Robert Chambers from Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (pdf); Secord from VLCD; Barrett Browning: "Lady Geraldine's Courtship," "The Cry of the Children"; Robert Browning, "My Last Duchess," "Johannes Agricola in Meditation," "Porphyria's Lover," "Bishop Blougram's' Apology"; Charlotte Brontë: "The Missionary," "On the Death of Emily/Anne"; "Reason"; Taylor, Secular Age, ch 8 [Recommended: EBB "Runaway slave at Pilgrim's Point"; "Curse for a Nation"; RB: "An Epistle Containing the Strange Medical Experience," "Cleon"; "Development"; Emily Brontë, all] Snacks by Jenny

 

Week 4:

Mon, Oct 17: Emerson, Divinity School Address, from "To Thos. Carlyle" (cp); Paul Ricœur The Critique of Religion + Preface to Thinking Biblically; Presentation by Lee on Zizek

 

Wed, Oct 19: Eve Sedgwick: "Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading"; Tennyson, from In Memoriam A. H. H. (bvp); * Snacks by Matt

 

Week 5:

Mon, Oct 24: Charlotte Brontë, Shirley; VLCD Part V:intro, McKelvy, Knight; Presentation by Jenny

 

Wed, Oct 26: Charlotte Brontë, Shirley Presentation by Joe on Newman; Snacks by Nancy

 

Week 6:

Mon, Oct 31 Charlotte Brontë, Shirley; Taylor, Secular Age, chs 9

 

Wed, Nov 2: No Class: Prof LaPorte giving paper at NAVSA conference

 

Week 7:

Mon, Nov 7: Charles Darwin, from Origin of Species,, VLCD Part VI: intro, Beer, Levine, Secord, Dawson; Taylor, A Secular Age, chs 10 +11. Presentation by Nancy on Besant

 

Wed, Nov 9; Darwin, from Descent of Man; D.G. Rossetti, "The Blessed Damozel"; C. Rossetti all from bvv; Larsen, from A People of One Book (pdf) Snacks by Bob

 

*350-Word Abstracts Due*

 

Week 8:

Mon, Nov 14: Seminar meets with Sandra Kroupa in Special Collections

 

Wed, Nov 16: from Michael Wheeler, from The Old Enemies (cp); James Thompson all poems (bvp); AMF Robinson, all poems (bvp); Mary Coleridge all poems (bvp); McLeod, Religion and Society, ch 4. [presentation of Seminar Paper topics]  Snacks by Joe; Presentation by Bob on Asad

 

 

Week 9:

Mon, Nov 21: G. M. Hopkins, Thomas Hardy all poems (bvv); Hopkins letters (pdf); Taylor, A Secular Age, ch 12 -13. {Recommended: Blair, from Form and Faith in Victorian Poetry and Religion (cp)]

 

Wed, Nov 23: No Class: Thanksgiving Break (but Charles is available for conferences)

 

Week 10:

Mon Nov 28: Stanton, from The Woman's Bible (pdf): Toru Dutt Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan [Optional: Carpenter, Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies (cp); Eagleton from Culture and the Death of God (pdf)]

 

Wed, Nov 30: William James, from Varieties of Religious Experience; Cornel West, from Cornel West Reader (pdf)  Snacks by Jonathan

 

Week 11:

Mon, Dec 5: G. B. Shaw: Major Barbara; Taylor, A Secular Age, ch 14.

 

Wed, Dec 7: Shaw contd. Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History (CP) Snacks by Lee

 

 

Final Paper Due Date: Dec 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presentation Topics:

 

Key Victorian Literary Works:

  1. A. Froude, The Nemesis of Faith (1849)

Gustave Flaubert The Temptation of St. Anthony (1856, 72, 74)

Florence Nightingale, Cassandra (1852) + F.N's Theology (2002)

  1. H. Newman Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864)

Annie Besant, Autobiographical Sketches (1885)

Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh (1903)

 

Philosophy:

Alain Badiou St. Paul, Foundation of Universalism (2003)

Slavoj Zizek The Fragile Absolute (2000)

Related Scholarship:

  1. Hillis Miller Disappearance of God (1963)

Alison Winter, Mesmerized (1998)

Gauri Viswanathan Outside the Fold (1998)

Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular (2003)

Eileen Fyfe, Science and Salvation: Evangelical Popular Science (2004)

Suzy Anger, Victorian Interpretation (2005)

Vincent Pecora, Secularization and Cultural Criticism (2006),

Dominic Erdozain, The Problem of Pleasure (2010)

Colin Jager, Unquiet Things (2015)

 

 

 

[1] This schedule is my best approximation of how the class ought to move along. I have attempted to negotiate between assigning too much reading and giving you insufficient amounts of material to write on. I reserve the right to change the order of works as seems best to suit our needs as a learning community. --CPL

Additional Details:

Religion has always had an outsized influence upon anglophone
literature, and yet until the recent "religious turn" in literary
studies, it was also somewhat neglected. The Marxist critic Terry
Eagleton does not exaggerate much when he states that, "Almost every
cultural theorist today passes over in silence some of the most vital
beliefs and activities of billions of ordinary men and women, simply
because they happen not to be to their personal taste."

This course introduces students to "the religious turn" in literary
studies, and it pursues the literary and cultural implications of
secularization and religion (especially evangelical religion)as they
relate to literature and as they come down to us from the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries.It will investigate a new scholarly consensus about
the vigor of nineteenth-century religion but will also focus upon
religious conflict, especially in the period surrounding Darwin's /The
Origin of Species/.It further will explore competing paradigms for
secularization, such as that of the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor,
who writes of secularization as a condition of modern life that helps to
constitute modern selfhood and that (at least historically) brings about
both the destabilization and recomposition of religious forms.Readings
will be drawn chiefly from a British context, but American, European,
and imperial parallels will be unmistakable and frequent.

Students need not have a background in religious studies, nor in
literary studies (though either would help).Expect primary readings to
range widely—from science to philosophy, fiction, and poetry.

Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:14pm