English 190

Research Seminar: Nonsense


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
11 Fall 2017 Hanson, Kristin
TTh 3:30-5 305 Wheeler

Book List

Carroll, Lewis: The Annotated Alice; Lear, Edward: The Complete Nonsense; Seuss, Dr.: Horton Hatches the Egg; Seuss, Dr.: Your Favorite Seuss;

Recommended: Pinker, Steven: Words and Rules

Other Readings and Media

A short photocopied reader containing miscellaneous secondary articles.

Description

This course will explore nonsense as a literary genre, connecting its distinctive linguistic form to the ideas it takes up.   In nonsense, conventional meanings of linguistic forms are prevented from arising, but the forms themselves are unimpeachable, and the system that created them allows new meanings to arise according to its own logic.  This foregrounds the linguistic system itself, making nonsense of special interest to children learning language.  At the same time, it lends nonsense an inherently subversive streak:  amidst their humor and charm, the classic nineteenth-century English nonsense writers Lear and Carroll, and their American descendant Dr. Seuss, criticize educational practices, social inequality, environmental destruction, imperialism, capitalism and even philology.  In class, we will explore the nonsense of these writers; in research papers, students may explore English nonsense literature from any period. 

Please read the paragraph about English 190 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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