English R1B

Reading & Composition: Strange Cases

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
10 Spring 2012 Mershon, Ella
MWF 1-2 223 Wheeler

Book List

Doyle, A. C.: Sherlock Holmes: Selected Stories; Melville, H.: Billy Budd, Sailor and Selected Tales; Poe, E. A.: Selected Tales; Shelley, M.: Frankenstein; Stevenson, R. L.: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Stoker, B.: Dracula

Other Readings and Media

There will be a course reader that will include works by Coleridge, P. B. Shelley, Keats, Byron, Whitman, Hawthorne, Rossetti, Browning, Tennyson, Le Fanu, Tyndal, Huxley, Arnold, Galvani, and Ruskin.


Per the title of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella, this course will explore a number of “strange cases”—serpent seductresses, mesmerized corpses, duplicitous doppelgangers, spectral monkeys (and other inexplicable apparitions), monstrous bodies, uncanny coincidences, and perverse desires—in an effort to flesh out what made the “strange” such a desirable literary and scientific topic in the 19th century. As we examine these bizarre and ofttimes beautiful cases, we will consider how the strange (strangers, estrangement, strangeness) struggles for articulation in an era that is “betwixt ancient faith and modern incredulity” (to quote an early reviewer of the gothic novel). Hence, we will work to juxtapose the historical construction of strangeness as it embraces new scientific incredulity with the aesthetic allure of the strange within and beyond the domain of the literary.

While these texts will hopefully furnish us with material for rich discussions, the primary goal of this class is to improve your writing. Building upon the praxis of literary analysis stressed in R1A, we will work to develop your fluency in writing longer and more complex papers with specific attention to the cultivation of effective research strategies and evaluative skills. Learning how to evaluate, respond to and incorporate source material into your prose will be the primary focus of this class, over the course of which you will produce 32 pages of written work through a gradual process of outlining, drafting, editing, and revising.


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