LIT 116G: Victorian Monsters

LIT 116G: Monsters and Literature

Victorian Monsters

Instructor Tara Thomas – Summer Session II

July 29 to August 30, 2019

 

Date: 7/29-8/30/19      Email: tanthoma@ucsc.edu

Time: TBA                 Office: TBA

Location: TBA            Office Hours: TBA

 

Required Texts:

  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
  • Sheridan Le Fanu, Carmilla
  • H.R. Haggard, She
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau
  • Supplementary reading available on Canvas

 

Course Description:

 

In Monster Theory, Jeffrey Cohen writes that “[t]he monster is born only at this metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment—of a time, a feeling, a place.” In this course, we will consider how the Victorians’ construction of monstrosity reflects their particular historical moment, characterized by industrialization, colonization, and scientific development. Through a critical examination of monsters in literature, we will explore anxieties, fears, and ideals of Victorian society, paying close attention to issues of gender, sexuality, class, race, empire, scientific, and technology. We begin by examining the pre-Victorian Frankenstein, in order to discuss the gothic and romantic roots of monsters in the nineteenth-century English literary tradition. Next, we discuss representations of gender, sexuality, and the figure of the vampire in Le Fanu’s Carmilla, followed by an examination of orientalism in Haggard’s She. We then consider Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in conversation with Victorian conceptions of social Darwinism and sexology. Finally, we discuss H.G. Well’s The Island of Doctor Moreau in relation to late-Victorian debates about vivisection.   

 

Course Goals:

As a lower-division course, this class is designed to provide an introduction to critical reading and writing while providing the opportunity to study the literary topic of monsters in literature within the historical and social context of nineteenth-century England. Throughout the course, we will develop these skills in order to provide you with the following outcomes:

 

Critical reading:

  • To understand the relationship between textual form, thematic content, and historical context of the texts we read.
  • To understand the critical approaches of our supplementary readings in order to help you develop your own analyses of these and other texts.

Critical writing and research:

  • To evaluate multiple interpretations of texts
  • To write effective argumentative prose
  • To situate texts in relation to a critical/theoretical tradition
  • To design and initiate a substantive independent project of research

 

Course Responsibilities and Final Grading:

 

Because this is an intensive summer course, you will be responsible for an estimated 30 hours of course-related work per week. You will be accountable for having effectively prepared for each class, and I will help motivate you to stay on top of the reading by giving daily reading quizzes.

 

Your final grade in the course will be determined as follows:

  • Daily Reading Quizzes                                                                                   25%
  • Midterm Exam                                                                                                25%
  • Final Paper (including Proposal)                                                                    30%
  • Participation                                                                                                   20%

*All assignments must be completed in order to pass the class.

 

 

Due Dates and Reading Schedule

WEEK 1 INTRODUCTION TO MONSTER THEORY
Tuesday Introduction to Course:

 

Elizabeth Gaskell, “The Old Nurse’s Story” (In Class)

Vernon Lee, “Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady” (In Class)

 

Thursday

 

Victorian Gothic and Literary Legacy:

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1-95)

Jeffry Jerome Cohen, “Monster Culture: Seven Theses”

Donna Haraway, “The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others.”

Weekly Keywords: romanticism, gothic, the other, biopolitics, nature / culture

WEEK 2 VICTORIAN MONSTERS AND MODERNITY
Tuesday

 

Containment and Contamination:

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (96-210)

Jack Halberstam, Skin Shows, “Making Monsters”

Keywords: public/private sphere, kinship, “totalizing

Monstrosity,” narratological monstrosity

Thursday Scientific Knowledge and the Monster:

 

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (211-end)

Alan Rauch, “The Monstrous Body of Knowledge in Mary Shelley’s

Frankenstein”

 

Keywords: enlightenment, Victorian knowledges, Victorian education

WEEK 3 DEVIANCE AND THE OTHER
Tuesday

 

Gender, Sexuality, and the Figure of the Vampire:

Sheridan Le Fanu, Carmilla (1-82)

Sue-Ellen Case, “Tracking the Vampire”

 

Keywords: gender, sexuality, sexual inversion

Thursday

 

Race, Empire, and the Figure of the Vampire:

Sheridan Le Fanu, Carmilla (83-end)

Jack Halberstam, Skin Shows, “Technologies of Monstrosity”

 

Keywords: imperialism, Victorian concepts of race

WEEK 4 ORIENTALISM AND MONSTERS
Tuesday

 

 

Orientalism, Egyptomania, and the Mummy in Literature

 

H.R. Haggard, She (1-90)

Edward Said, Orientalism (selections)

Thursday

 

H.R. Haggard, She (91-end)

 

Keywords: orientalism, orient/occident, egyptomania

WEEK 5 FIN DE SIECLE MONSTROSITY
Tuesday

 

 

Degeneration and Doubling:

 

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1-end)

Steven Arata, “The Sedulous Ape: Atavism, Professionalism, and Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde”

 

Keywords: degeneration, atavism, different concepts of doubling

Thursday

 

Hybridity and Animality:

 

H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau

Mason Harris, “Vivisection, the Culture of Science, and Intellectual Uncertainty in The Island of Doctor Moreau

 

Keywords: hybridity, animality, posthumanism

 

FINAL RESEARCH PAPER DUE

IN MY OFFICE ON

THE DAY OF THE FINAL