Literature Pre-1850 Spring 2024


ENGL 314: Major British Writers After 1800

Instructor: Colleen Morrissey
55888| MWF 10:00 – 10:50 AM | Wescoe 1009 – Lawrence


English 314 will introduce students to a selection of major authors, texts, and aesthetic innovations of the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern periods. We will focus on a group of authors whose works represent the formal and stylistic developments of the English literary tradition from the late 18th to the early 20th century, including Jane Austen, George Gordon (Lord Byron), Christina Rossetti, Emily Brontë, Oscar Wilde, and Virginia Woolf. Using close reading and textual analysis as our lens, we will trace how these authors and their works emblematize the social, political, and aesthetic movements of this time period while developing our critical engagement with various forms of poetry and prose.

Jane Austen

ENGL 317: Freedom and Bondage in the American Renaissance

Instructor: Paul Outka
48946 | MW 12:30-1:45 PM | Wescoe 4023 – LAWRENCE

This course will examine a number of texts written during the so-called “American Renaissance,” a period traditionally defined by the burst of creative work by Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Whitman, Hawthorne, and several others, published in the decades preceding the Civil War. At the same time, we will broaden this canonical focus to include writers who have not been traditionally included in the American Renaissance, including Harriet Jacobs, Fredrick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, David Walker, and Harriet Wilson. This broader context will allow us to view the extraordinary concern with individualism, self-creation, originality, and freedom in the canonical group through the prism of slavery, the issue that saturated the period’s political, cultural, and philosophical discourse. Rather than dismissing the canonical texts as simply escapist, or including the less canonical texts as mere variations on the central works, we will read this important literary period as fundamentally intersectional, as a profoundly interrelated series of meditations on freedom and bondage.

Frederick Douglass

ENGL 332: Shakespeare

Instructor: Geraldo Sousa
53480 | TuTh 9:30-10:45 AM | Wescoe 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.” We will consider many other topics, such as Shakespeare as a storyteller and the principles of narratology, representation of family and home, genre and form, Shakespeare’s language, and so forth. For additional information, contact Dr. Sousa: sousa@ku.edu.

Text on page reading "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare"

ENGL 385: The Development of Modern English

Instructor: Wen Xin
55911 | TuTh 1:00-2:15 PM | Wescoe 4076 - LAWRENCE

This course explores the origins of the English language and how it evolved through Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English, Present Day English, and across the post-modern globe. We will look at how historical events have changed the English language, and how issues of social status, identity, and ideology have driven the directions that English has taken. We will also discuss how knowing about language history helps us understand why we use language the way we do for various social purposes (to include or exclude, to connect with others, etc.). At the end of the course, I hope you will see how your own language has been shaped by different groups of people and forces over several centuries, and how you yourself contribute to the continuing change of the English language.

Close up of text with pink highlighted word "Language"