Welcome to ENGL 494, a seminar at MacEwan University on the topic of “Victorian Bodies.” We’re already a few weeks into the semester, but this week marks the beginning of student blog responses to weekly readings. This semester, we’re reading various works of fiction that explore the difficulties or challenges related to the representation of the human body. Our course material will take us all over the map of Victorian cataloguing, classifying, identifying, analyzing, scrutinizing, disciplining, training, and penetrating the numerous meanings of the human body in modern life. Students will write one blog entry each, an “unessay,” and a formal research paper premised on cultural/material analysis of Victorian fiction. We will also close the semester, in the final two weeks, with student presentations on the topic of “weird bodies” in Victorian culture.
For those of you registered in the seminar, please feel free to follow this blog or check up on it regularly because I will be posting material related to our seminar discussions and course readings.
Here’s a list of our reading schedule this semester:
Week One (Jan 6): course introduction. What is a “body”? Readings: excerpts from Karl Marx, Marcel Mauss, Walter Benjamin, and Michel Foucault.
Week Two (Jan 13): industrial bodies and machine rhythms. Readings: selections of Victorian prose non-fiction on industrialization (online readings).
Week Three (Jan 20): fact-based bodies v. fanciful bodies. Readings: Dickens’s Hard Times.
Week Four (Jan 27): paranormal bodies. Readings: Eliot’s The Lifted Veil.
Week Five (Feb 3): disabled bodies as sensational bodies. Readings: Collins’s Poor Miss Finch.
Week Six (Feb 10): disabled bodies continued. Readings: Poor Miss Finch continued.
Reading Week (Feb 17): no class scheduled.
Week Seven (Feb 24): atavistic and criminal bodies. Readings: Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Week Eight (Mar 2): addicted, forensic, and racialized bodies. Readings: Doyle’s The Sign of Four.
Week Nine (Mar 9): uncanny bodies and Victorian technology. Readings: Kipling’s “Mrs. Bathurst” and “Wireless” (online readings).
Week Ten (Mar 16): vampiric, seductive bodies. Readings: Stoker’s Dracula.
Week Eleven (Mar 23): catch our breath week. Topic TBA. Readings: TBA depending on course progression and student interests.
Week Twelve (Mar 30): weird bodies. Student research presentations.
Week Thirteen (Apr 6): weird bodies. Student research presentations.