English 250

Research Seminar: Idols and Ideology—Readings in Augustine, Milton, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Hobbes, Kant, Marx, Freud, Althusser

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Spring 2017 Kahn, Victoria
W 2-5 4104 Dwinelle Graduate Courses

Book List

Augustine: Of Christian Doctrine; Marlowe, Christopher: Dr. Faustus; Milton, John: Samson Agonistes; Shakespeare, William: The Winter's Tale;

Recommended: Althusser, Louis: Lenin and Philosophy; Eagleton, Terry: Ideology of the Aesthetic; Hawkes, David: Ideology; Ricoeur, Paul: Lectures on Ideology and Utopia; Zizek, Slavoj: The Sublime Object of Ideology

Other Readings and Media

All other readings will be posted on B-courses.


The history of Western literary theory is often told in terms of the concept of mimesis. But there is another, equally powerful, anti-mimetic strand to this history, and that is the critique of mimesis as a form of idolatry. In this course, we will explore this critique from the prohibition against images in the Hebrew bible up through modern attacks on mimesis as inherently ideological. Our main literary texts in the first half of the semester will be taken from Reformation England, when there was a fierce debate about the harmful power of images and the necessity of iconoclasm. We will focus on works by Marlowe, Bacon, Shakespeare, and Milton. In the second half of the semester, we will discuss the afterlife of iconoclasm in Marx, Freud, Althusser, Zizek, Adorno, Terry Eagleton, and Isobel Armstrong. Students whose interests lie primarily in national literatures other than English are welcome, and may write their final papers on primary texts and literatures not discussed in class, though they must engage the theoretical texts assigned for the seminar.

This section of English 250 is cross-listed with Comparative Literature 250 section 1.

This course satisfies the Group 6 (Non-historical) requirement.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/1 Research Seminar: Victorian Cultural Studies Puckett, Kent
250/2 Research Seminar: How to Write a Book Kahn, Victoria
250/3 Research Seminar: Paranoid States: Empire and the Rise of the Surveillance State Saha, Poulomi
250/4 Research Seminar: Gender, Sexuality, Modernism Abel, Elizabeth
Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/1 Research Seminar: Wordsworth and Coleridge in Collaboration Goodman, Kevis
250/2 Research Seminar: Modernism in Poetry and in Art Altieri, Charles F.
Fall, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/1 Research Seminar: Representing Non-Human Life in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Britain Picciotto, Joanna M
250/2 Research Seminar: Ethnic Modernisms Lee, Steven S.
250/3 Research Seminar: Literature and the Brain Gang, Joshua
Spring, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/1 Research Seminar: Capitalist Crisis and Literature Gonzalez, Marcial
250/2 Research Seminar: The Limits of Historicism Best, Stephen M.
250/3 Research Seminar: How It Strikes a Contemporary: Reading the Novel in the 21st Century Snyder, Katherine
Snyder, Katie
250/4 Research Seminar: Modernism's Metaphysics Blanton, C. D.
Fall, 2015
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/1 Research Seminar: Literature of the English Revolution Picciotto, Joanna M
250/2 Research Seminar: Medieval Literary Thought Justice, Steven
250/3 Research Seminar: Black + Queer Ellis, Nadia
250/4 Research Seminar: John Donne and T.S. Eliot: Lyric Poetry and Society Marno, David
Spring, 2015
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/1 Research Seminar Best, Stephen M.
250/2 Research Seminar: The Grammar of Poetry, the Poetry of Grammar Altieri, Charles F.
250/3 Research Seminar: Gender, Sexuality, and Modernism Abel, Elizabeth
250/4 Research Seminar Falci, Eric

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