Literature Pre-1850


ENGL 312: Major British Writers to 1800

Instructor: Misty Schieberle
49862 | TuTh 1:00 - 2:15 PM | WES 4051 - LAWRENCE

This course surveys British literature from the earliest writings in English through the 18th century. Our goal is to emphasize comprehensive and careful reading to begin to understand the English literary tradition. Readings will be wide and varied – Old English warrior tales, later medieval chivalric narratives, animal fables and a medieval werewolf, and Early Modern demon-conjuring drama, plus plays, sonnets, and satire. Selections will include Beowulf; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; portions of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte D’Arthur, and Milton’s Paradise Lost; Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi; Marlowe’s Tragical History of Doctor Faustus; and Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” among others. As we progress throughout the course, we will examine how later writers choose to represent and reinvent earlier literary, intellectual, and social attitudes, with room for considering how they have affected later literary texts and adaptations. Text: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 9th Edition (3 volume set). Requirements: regular class attendance and participation, quizzes, two essays (one will require research), and two exams. This course fulfills the English 312 or equivalent requirement for the English major.

Collage of images featuring pre-1800 literary illustrations

ENGL 317: Literature of Slavery and Abolition

Instructor: Laura L. Mielke
49860 | TuTh 1:00 - 2:15 PM | WES 4076 - LAWRENCE

The war over slavery in the U.S. was waged with words as well as weapons. In this course, we will study a broad range of works produced between the late-eighteenth century and the start of the Civil War that ask whether slavery should persist in a country founded on human equality. In addition to examining how authors of slave narratives, speeches, novels, and dramas framed their arguments concerning slavery, we will explore how the literature of slavery preserves the experience of enslaved people. Throughout the semester we will consider the legacy of this literature for contemporary social justice movements.

Image citation: James C. Beard, "The Fifteenth Amendment," Library Company of Philadelphia, https://www.librarycompany.org/

Images representing the Fifteenth Amendment

ENGL 332: Shakespeare

Instructor: Geraldo Sousa
55743 | TuTh 9:30 - 10:45 AM | WES 4035 - LAWRENCE

“To thine own self be true,” wrote Shakespeare in Hamlet. Throughout his plays and poems, Shakespeare gives us insights into the depths of human nature, what it means to be true to ourselves and to one another, the different choices we make, and how to live our lives in a more meaningful way. In this course, we will interrogate the different ways Shakespeare represents human nature and still speaks to us across the ages. This course will survey Shakespeare's works, focusing on close readings of selected plays and movie adaptations. We will also explore Shakespeare’s career as a professional man of the theater, and the theatrical and cultural conditions of his time. Life and theater often intersect, as Jaques of 'As You Like It' memorably states: “All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players.” In the course of the semester, we will address many other topics, such as race and racism, gender issues, representation of family and home, genre and form, Shakespeare’s language, and so forth. For additional information contact Dr. Sousa: sousa@ku.edu.

Book open to title page that says "Complete Works of William Shakespeare"

ENGL 565: The Gothic Tradition

Instructor: Geraldo Sousa
55753 | TuTh 11:00 - 12:15 PM | WES 4035 - LAWRENCE

This course explores and defines the Gothic tradition in British and American literature from its beginnings in the late eighteenth century to more recent twentieth-century texts in literature and film. The Gothic presents intensely psychological states of fear: portals open to phantasmagorical parallel realms of darkness and shadows. It disturbs and de-stabilizes the natural, empirical, logical boundaries of reality and pursues supernatural possibility, a night world of nightmares and shadows, realms of mystery and magic. This course will focus on the Gothic’s recurring topics, themes and concerns, such as the Uncanny, Doubles, live burial, life after/in death, haunted houses, vampires, and monsters, as well as their cultural implications, asking why these concerns come together to form the conventions of Gothic literature and why these conventions have proven to be so compelling. For additional information, contact Dr. Sousa: sousa@ku.edu

Ceiling of Gothic cathedral with light shining through windows