English R1B

Reading and Composition: Evolution & Fiction: Generic, Social and Personal Adaptation

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Fall 2004 Jhoanna Infante
MWF 3-4 78 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

"Darwin, C.: On the Origin of the Species; Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex.

Paley, W.: Natural Theology.

Hardy, T.: Tess of the D'Urbervilles; selected poetry and prefaces.

Hopkins, G.: selected poetry.

Stoker, B.: Dracula.

Jonz, S.: Adaptation (film). "


"In this course, we will engage with the concept of ""adaptation"" as it relates to literary genre, social change, Darwin's theory of evolution, and your own approach to writing. You will learn how to be an observant reader, as well as how to be an ""adaptive,"" versatile writer who can respond to the specific requirements of literary analysis and scholarly research. You will be required to write two research papers that relate to the subject matter of the course and also reflect your independent research. Each student will be asked to write a report on an additional relevant text that reflects his/her own interest in the material.

The subject matter of the course will be the relationship between Darwinian evolutionary theory and late Victorian fiction. We will read selections from Charles Darwin's On the Origin of the Species and Descent of Man and will use close reading techniques to uncover the ""literary"" features of these scientific writings. We will establish a sense of short story and novel reading in the mid-nineteenth century by considering serial publication in magazines, three-volume publication, and subscription libraries. Among other features of the texts, we will discuss narrative voice, audience, and the relationship between society/culture and these writers. How can we locate cultural assumptions in an author's use of language? How can we turn an eye toward our own writing, and use this analysis productively toward second and third drafts? We will also look at the novel as a ""adaptive"" form of literature contrasted to the ""higher"" form of poetry, particularly in its associations with the market, women readers and authors, and public taste. Reading will include two novels, a few poems, and few short stories; in the last week of the course, we will watch the film Adaptation to extend our discussion of adapting genres. "

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