2020-21 Pomona College Catalog 
    
    Nov 30, 2022  
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ENGL159 PO - Supernatural Century: Victorian Fear from Frankenstein to Dracula

When Offered: Last offered spring 2017.
Instructor(s): K. Wittman
Credit: 1

Serious century: so one critic characterizes nineteenth-century Britain, understood through its literature. Bourgeois, every day, dour, realistic. Filled with very-long novels about banks and dinners. And then at the window, Frankenstein’s creature; a spectral woman in the garden; a hyena with human hands; a revenant nun; a malevolent vampire. This course examines the simmering undercurrents of fear in Victorian Britain through the supernatural beings populating its novels, poetry, short stories, and non-fiction prose. We will ask three questions: first, what is 19th-century Britain-powerful, wealthy, imperial-so afraid of, and why do those fears (of colonial uprising, of modern science, of women’s rights, of working-class insurrection, of sexual desire) take shape in literature as reanimated corpses, vampires, specters, immortal libertines, and human-animal hybrids? Second, how do the ascendant literary forms of this era try to manage that fear or, conversely, what literary innovations emerge from the failure to manage it? And finally, we will ask about the changing nature of fear itself in nineteenth-century Britain, from the cathartic fear that complements Romantic sublimity through the disciplinary fear imposed by institutional capitalism to the hysteria, anxiety, and neurosis of late century psychoanalytic thinking.
Satisfies the following General Education Requirement(s), subject to conditions explained in the Degree Requirements section of this Catalog:
Area 1 ; Writing Intensive



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