English R1A

Reading and Composition: Materialist Aesthetics

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Fall 2018 No instructor assigned yet.
MWF 1-2 122 Wheeler

Book List

Darwin, Charles: Origin of Species; La Mettrie: Machine Man and Other Writings; Robinson, Kim Stanley: Aurora; Shiel, M.P.: The Purple Cloud; Sterne, Laurence: Tristam Shandy


Materialism has often been a shared premise and point of confluence between literature and science, even the precondition for any relation between literary and scientific practice. If since the 18th century, aesthetics in the expanded sense has referred not just to a domain of literary theory but to material phenomena in the world, then materialist aesthetics in science and literature take empirical processes, bodies, and physical systems as their basis of explanation and grounds of inquiry. This course investigates the key tropes of materialist aesthetics between science and literature from the late 18th century to the present. How might we understand materialism as a literary and scientific practice of explanation and representation? To what extent do materialist practices in science and literature converge and depart? Along the way, we'll ask how materialist aesthetics in science and literature might provide a distinctive vantage point on questions of form, scale, history, mileu, technology, and climate. Readings include La Mettrie, Lucretius, Sterne, Erasmus Darwin, Wordsworth, Shelley,  Cuvier, Byron, Charles Darwin, Samuel Butler, M.P. Shiel, and Kim Stanley Robinson. This is an R1A course, the first course in a two-semester R&C sequence. Over the course of the semester, you'll compose several essays of increasing length designed to enhance your writing and composition skills. 

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