English 150

Senior Seminar: Virtual Worlds: Wonderland and Wessex: Lewis Carroll and Thomas Hardy

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Fall 2008 Langan, Celeste
Langan, Celeste
TTh 11-12:30 109 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Abbott, E. Flatland (1884) ; Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark (1874); Sylvie and Bruno (1893); Gardner, M., ed. The Annotated Alice; Hardy, T.: The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886); Tess of the Durbervilles (1891); Jude the Obscure (1895).


By focusing on the starkly different fictional worlds created by two (late) nineteenth-century writers, Lewis Carroll and Thomas Hardy, this course is designed to raise questions about the phenomenology of representation. How do these writers produce the very different effects of the ?virtual? and the ?real?: are these effects of style or of content? In what variety of ways can readers ?enter? or immerse themselves in the ?flatland? (that is, the two-dimensional space) of the page? What are the roles of narration and description?of language in general--- in generating a fictional ?world?? How minimalist or detailed must a rendering be to produce the effect of the real or the virtual? Is the difference between the real and the virtual parallel to the difference between sensory and cognitive experience? Or do we only distinguish between sensory experience and its hallucination or simulation by means of concepts that are themselves fictions? How are such questions illuminated by the translation or ?remediation? of a literary text by a technology like film? By theories and technologies of computer-generated ?virtual reality?? In addition to reading various critics on Carroll and Hardy?including Gilles Deleuze and Elaine Scarry-students will read some foundational essays in phenomenology and media theory. Students will have the option of writing a 20-page essay that focuses on either one of the writers or on both.

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