English 190

Research Seminar: Literatures of the Ocean


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Spring 2017 Sorensen, Janet
TTh 9:30-11 C57 Hearst Field Annex

Other Readings and Media

See below.

Description

In this seminar we’ll explore literary (and some non-literary) representations of life at sea and of sailors, both offshore and on, primarily but not exclusively during the expansion of Britain’s first empire during the eighteenth century. We’ll explore formal techniques that attempted to bring the faraway spaces of the sea and the distant figure of the sea traveller home to British readers. We’ll read theories of sentiment and sympathy to think about how remote figures become compatriots with whom readers might feel. We’ll consider how print representations of an alien wooden world—the ship at sea—and of globe-travelling sailors constituted them, nonetheless, as British, particularly through depictions of nautical language. Pirates posed a challenge to this image of sailors, and we’ll think too about the significance of the popularity of pirate narratives. Exploring the imaginative possibilities the sea presented, we’ll read aesthetic theory to think about how the sea and sailors’ experiences at sea might function as aesthetic objects and perceptions. Our readings might take us in several alternative but clearly adjacent directions—imperial discourse, slavery, trans-Atlantic studies, literature and science—and other interests students might bring to the table, and students’ interests will shape some of our class discussions and certainly the research writing. We will move between seminar discussions on the readings and, increasingly as the semester moves forward, conversations about research and writing practices in the preparation of a 20-page research paper.  

Provisional Book List:  Daniel Defoe, Captain Singleton; A General History of Pirates; Olaudah Equiano, Interesting Narrative; Tobias Smollett, Roderick Random; Frances Burney, Evelina; Poetry of John Dryden, James Thomson, William Falconer, William Cowper, Samuel Taylor Coleridge; accounts of the voyages of William Dampier, George Anson, and James Cook. Archival research materials might include naval songs, logs and journals of voyages. Philosophical writings of Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and recent scholarship on writing and the sea, including James Bunn, Margaret Cohen and Ian Baucom.

This section of English 190 satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

Please read the paragraph about English 190 on page 2 of this Announcement of Classes for more details about enrolling in or wait-listing for this course.

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