Cover Photo Image


ENG 615: Medieval Travel
 
Dr. Amanda Gerber (gerberax@jmu.edu)
Thursday, 5:00-8:00 PM 
Keezell 310

Just like today, medieval people exhibited endless curiosity about the world around them. They were keenly aware of worlds far beyond their daily existence and often went in search of them, sometimes in travels that they recorded for posterity and sometimes in their imaginations. This course will follow a collection of real and imaginary travels across various parts of the medieval globe. Along our shared journey, we will meet Mansa Musa, the richest man who ever lived, and who single-handedly caused an economic recession in Egypt when he traveled from his vast empire in West Africa. We will also follow Marco Polo to China and Near Eastern travelers to England, an island many people (including some of its inhabitants) deemed so remote as to be a fairyland. With these travelers, we will encounter sources for modern cultural distinctions, which range from historical facts to monstrous fictions. By the end of our journey, we will be able to answer how the intersections of race, ethnicity, upbringing, geography, and religion shaped notions of both the familiar and the strange as well as the homeland and the world just beyond a traveler’s grasp.  


ENG 630: Studies in Restoration and 18th-Century British Literature

Dr. Dawn Goode (goodedm@jmu.edu)
Wednesday, 5:00-8:00 PM
Keezell 310

Queering 18th-Century British Literature: Chris Roulston has recently argued that, “Historical queer identities. . . rarely inhabit a stable context, they are frequently isolated, and often they can only be brought to light through a process of active interpretation. Queer history, in this sense, is as much an act of imagination as of historical record; it is definitionally unstable and ungraspable and tends to unravel as soon as it has been constructed” (761). As an act of such imagination, this course will examine British literature from the long eighteenth century (1660-1800). Scattered throughout the literature of the long eighteenth century (1660-1800), we find such figures as the sodomite, the fop, the molly, the macaroni, the breeches heroine, the female husband, the romantic friend and the sapphist. We will read texts from a variety of genres (drama, scandal narratives, poetry, novels) through which these figures manifest in both naked and coded forms and we will explore how/if we can/should read them in terms of modern queer identity. In addition to its study of literature, this course will explore the parameters of what has been a contentious debate within queer historical scholarship, that between historicizing and “unhistoricizing” approaches to queer scholarship.


ENG 651: Studies in 19th-Century American Literature

Dr. Matthew Rebhorn (rebhornme@jmu.edu
Monday, 5:00-8:00 PM
Keezell 310

In nineteenth-century America, there was a tremendous amount of debate about the relationship between the mind and the body, debates often advanced by the scientific and medical communities.  Some physicians stole bodies from graves to perform autopsies and bled patients to discover the causes of disease, while others prescribed drinking water or sleeping in drafty rooms to maintain the health of the body.  At the core of these debates was a contest about whether the mind controlled the body, or the body had a “mind” of its own.  This course takes up these debates not only in and of themselves, but also in the way they affected the kinds of literature being produced in this period.  In reading well-known texts by Emerson, Poe, Melville, and Whitman, against lesser known texts about grave robbing, racial miscegenation, phantom limbs, and neurosis, we will see how these debates inflected what authors chose to explore and, even more importantly, how they chose to write about these events.  What this course ultimately hopes to reveal, therefore, is not only how nineteenth-century American literature reacted to the mind/body debate, but also how these works became American literature by taking up this debate.

Back to Top