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    Vassar College
  Feb 17, 2018
Catalogue 2017-2018
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ENGL 265 - Selected Author

Semester Offered: Spring
1 unit(s)

Topic for 2017/18b: Octavia Butler.  In 2000 Octavia Butler told the New York Times why she began writing science fiction: “When I began writing science fiction, when I began reading, heck, I wasn’t in any of this stuff I read. The only black people you found were occasional characters or characters who were so feeble-witted that they couldn’t manage anything, anyway. I wrote myself in, since I’m me and I’m here and I’m writing.” Anomalous and iconoclastic as an African American woman writing science fiction, Octavia Butler would go on to produce dozens of novels and short stories exploring and exposing the most dubious and disturbing elements of American culture. In this course students work through a selection of Butler’s oeuvre, as well as select secondary and theoretical material to make sense of the possibilities that Butler imagined for her readers. Gender, race, sexuality, class, justice, environmental and societal destruction, history and hope are among the many themes explored. Eve Dunbar.

Topic for 2017/18b: Jane Austen. Over the last two decades, Jane Austen has emerged as the most popular of the great nineteenth-century British novelists.  Her novels have been adapted and rewritten by contemporary authors, and they’ve been translated into films and mini-series. Austen’s presence on the web has been formidable as well, from the Republic of Pemberley to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. While this course investigates our current investment in Austen through an examination of a variety of modern adaptations, it also places Austen back into her original literary and historical contexts.  It considers her contributions to the development of literary realism as well as her status as a transitional novelist who wrote on the cusp of modernity.  Readings include Northanger AbbeySense and SensibilityPride and PrejudiceMansfield ParkEmma, and Persuasion. Susan Zlotnick.


Two 75-minute periods.

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