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The Sublime

Poetics and Politics of the Aesthetic in the Long 18th Century
and Beyond

J. Jennifer Jones

Student Writing

Your overall course grade in English 553 will be comprised of three categories: participation, the short essay, and the final seminar paper.

Participation: 25%

Participation includes reading the assigned and suggested texts and coming to our seminar meetings prepared to discuss them. At minimum, you should have studied the primary texts carefully enough to have a working sense of their principle arguments and forms, as well as a sense of how form and content work together to produce the overall effects of the given texts. I expect you to come to class prepared to participate in general discussion and respond to both myself and your peers, to articulate specific aspects of the texts you find particularly interesting and/or troubling, and to bring questions, concerns, and critiques to the table.

Your participation grade also includes two short presentations. Over the course of the semester, you will present on two texts from each of three areas: primary historical theory (Longinus, Burke, Kant); poetry; and 20th- and 21st-century theory & criticism, having signed up for these presentations on the first day of class. Each presentation should be 20 minutes in length and should be spoken from memory and notes rather than read from a printed page. Your goal is to teach the given text on which you are presenting to the best of your ability. Your work is to discern what is most important and draw attention to those aspects of the text. You are welcome to offer claims/theses you may have formulated as you studied the text and/or questions you find particularly useful to bring to bear on the text. You may also implicate other texts from the syllabus into your presentation as long as you clearly articulate their relevance.

Short Essays: 25%

You will write two short essays (each to be 3-5 pages) over the course of this seminar on two texts from three areas on which you will also be presenting orally during meetings: primary historical theory (Longinus, Burke, Kant); poetry; and 20th- and 21st-century theory & criticism. Your short essays may be complimentary to your presentations if you wish. However, since you may not read your presentations, they will necessarily differ at least marginally from your formal essays. I encourage you to think of the presentations as an opportunity to articulate the main arguments of a text, to literally treat it as a text you are responsible to teach, and to think of the short essay as an opportunity to present a formal written argument on the text.

Seminar Paper: 50%

Your seminar paper is the culmination of your work in this class. You may write on any topic you wish as long as it incorporates at least one text from the course and grapples with the concept of the sublime in some way. This paper, which should be between 15 and 25 pages in length, should comprise original thought, by which I mean a position articulated through analyses and argumentation supported by careful close readings and by critical/historical research. You are welcome to put various texts into dialogue (historical theory, poetry, prose, fiction, criticism, contemporary theory &). You are welcome to supplement the text(s) you choose from our syllabus with other texts. And you may be as interdisciplinary as you like in that regard as long as you bring scholarly integrity to the texts you choose.

Seminar Papers are due by Monday, May 7 at 5pm by electronic submission. If you wish to receive your essay back with commentary, please provide a large self-addressed, stamped envelope to me on the last day of class. To be safe, the envelope should be stamped to accommodate a weight of 30 pages.



Office & Office Hours

Independence 175B
T 2-3:45pm and by appointment

Course Location & Time

Providence Campus
W 4-6:45pm

Required Texts

Longinus, On the Sublime. 1 A.D. Trans. W. H. Fyfe; Rev. D. A. Russell. Loeb Classical Library, 1996.
ISBN: 0674995635

 John Milton, Paradise Lost. 1674. Ed. Gordon Teskey. New York: Norton, 2005.
ISBN: 0393924289

 René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy. A Bilingual Edition. Ed. George Heffernan. Notre Dame: U. of Notre Dame P, 1990.
ISBN: 0268013810

The Book of Job. Trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York: Harper Perennial, 1992. ISBN: 0060969598

Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. 1757. Ed. James T. Boulton. Indiana: U of Notre Dame P, 1993.
ISBN: 0268000859

Immanuel Kant. The Critique of Judgement. 1790. Trans. James Creed Meredith. New York: Oxford UP, 1978. ISBN: 0198245890

Anne Radcliffe. The Italian. Ed. Frederick Garber. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.
ISBN: 0192832549

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey. Ed. Marilyn Gaull. New York: Longman, 2004.
ISBN: 0321202082

Suggested Texts

Michael Greer. What Every Student Should Know About Citing Sources with MLA Documentation. New York: Longman, 2006.
ISBN: 0321447379

Joseph Gibaldi. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th Rev. Edition. MLA P, 2003
ISBN: 0873529863

Diana Hacker. A Writer’s Reference. 5th Sprl edition. Bedford/St. Martin's P, 2003.
ISBN: 0312412622

Course Requirements

Participation (20%)
2 Short Essay (30%)
Seminar Paper (50%)