ENGL 618, Spring 2008
Experience Liberated: Comparative Literature Seminar in the Romance

Dr. Jo Koster
228 Bancroft Hall

Office Hours Weds. 10-12; Tuesday 9:30-11:30 and 2-4 pm; and by appointment.

Reserve List

The romance is far older than the novel, and as Corinne Sanders has argued, it "is often self-conscious, reflecting some degree of choice against realism, and demonstrating over the course of literary history the enduring power and relevance—social, intellectual, emotional—of a mode of writing underpinned by the imaginative use of the symbolic and the fantastic, by idealism, and by universal motifs such as quest and adventure" (2004: 4). In this seminar we will examine the genre of romance—which Henry James calls "experience liberated" from the requirements and limitations of realism—as it evolves over time and cultures, both Western and non-Western. We will track the rise and fall of its prestige, the effects of rationalism, gender, and literacy on its popularity and reputation, and current writers’ attempts to rehabilitate this genre of adventure, identity, and transformation. Since this is a comparative literature seminar, we will emphasize cultures other than British and American, including non-Western cultures, so that you can put what you've already read in more familiar literatures into a wider context.