English 190

Research Seminar: Reflections of the French Revolution


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Spring 2014 Knox, Marisa Palacios
TTh 9:30-11 109 Wheeler

Book List

Burke, Edmund: Reflections on the Revolution in France; Dickens, Charles: A Tale of Two Cities

Other Readings and Media

A course reader containing selections from Burke, Wordsworth, Wollstonecraft, Blake, Carlyle, and others. 

Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006)

Description

“In France it was what people did that was wild and elemental; in England it was what people wrote…Verbally considered, Carlyle’s French Revolution was more revolutionary than the real French Revolution” –G. K. Chesterton, The Victorian Age in Literature

This course engages with Chesterton’s argument that “towards the end of the eighteenth century the most important event in English history happened in France”—that the cataclysm that began in France on July 14, 1789 shaped the progress of British culture, which reflected historic and political events into literary representations. We begin with the immediate reaction to the Revolution in Burke’s polemic, Reflections on the Revolution in France, and the Revolution’s role as inspiration to the Romantic poets. Then, we turn to the Victorian dramatizations of Carlyle’s history and Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, through which a growing empire was able to construct its image of Pax Britannica in mirror opposition to France. Although the class mainly focuses on British responses to the French Revolution, in the final week we will screen a recent cinematic depiction of feminized monarchist nostalgia, Marie Antoinette, to compare with the “half-angelic, half-demoniac splendor” of the female revolutionaries and maenadic mobs immortalized in mythic terms by Carlyle.

Throughout the course, we will question how and why the Revolution is transformed by different ideological and formal contexts. Students will complete a 5-8-page critical essay, as well as a longer research project culminating in a 12-15-page paper. 

Please read the paragraph on page 2 of the instructions area of this Announcement of Classes for more details about enrolling in or wait-listing for this course.

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