English 45B

Literature in English: Late-17th through Mid-19th Century

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2004 Goldsmith, Steven
Goldsmith, Steven

Other Readings and Media

Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. II; Austen, J: Pride and Prejudice; Brockden Brown, C: Wieland; Franklin, B: Autobiography; acobs, H: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Mackenzie, H: The Man of Feeling; Melville, H: Billy Budd and Other Stories; Swift, J: Gulliver?s Travels


"Our course begins at sea, with the ""violent storm"" and shipwreck of Gulliver?s Travels, and ends at sea in Benito Cereno, with a tragic convergence of Europe, America, and Africa, just off ""a small, desert, uninhabited island toward the southern extremity of the long coast of Chili."" These scenes of dislocation stage the loss of solid ground and correspond to the rise of modernity that forms our topic. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century modernity involves a variety of new or accelerating instabilities: epistemological anxiety; cultural relativism in newly imagined global contexts; the transformation of economic value from land to (liquid) capital; linguistic self-consciousness in a rapidly expanding print culture; altered forms of subjectivity navigating the revolutionary rhetorics of freedom and individualism. The subtitle of Wieland sums up our course in a word: ""The Transformation."" Throughout, we will ask what literary anxieties and opportunities are created by ""transformation,"" when all that had once seemed solid--self, world, society--turns fluid, as if at sea. "

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