Syllabus Spring Semester. English 682. Melville. Professors Susan Howe and Neil Schmitz. Tues, 12:30pm -3:30pm. 436 Clemens.
Assigned Texts: Moby-Dick (Penguin), Piazza Tales (Northwestern), Letters to Hawthorne, Duyckinck and others. As preparation for this seminar you should have at least read Typee, Redburn, and Pierre. You should also have a general acquaintance with Melville's biography. Each student taking the course for credit will present one seminar report (15-20 mins) and one final research paper of twenty pages. Jan 26: Introduction. Overview of semester. Discussion of syllabus, presentations etc. SH&NS Feb 2: "Hawthorne and His Mosses" "Etymology," "Extracts.""Epilogue" SH Feb 9: "Loomings" "1850's Compromise. NS First oral presentation. Feb 16: "The sermon" (Jonah) allegory. SH Feb 23: "Town-Ho" "Lee Shore" NS March 2: "Cetology" "Coffins" "The Whiteness of the Whale:" SH March 9: Comic hyperbole, humor NS March 16: Pro-Ahab-- or"The carpenter"or "The Castaway" or various meetings of ships. SH March 23: Anti-Ahab--NS March 30: Last discussion of Moby-Dick. NS&SH SPRING BREAK April 13: Piazza Tales: "The Piazza," "The Encantadas," "The Bell-Tower," NS & SH April 20: "Bartleby" SH April 27: "Benito Cereno" NS May 4: Last class. NS&SH. Papers due.
Some ideas for presentations and papers: Reports on Typee--leg injury, taboo, cannibalism, and its relation to Moby-Dick. Ahab's lost leg. Leg injuries etc. Moby-Dick as precurser of Finnegan's Wake. There are many ways this can be done. Report on Mardi as Melville's first attempt at a work on the scale of Moby-Dick. Research on Jonah in scripture and also in American literary consciousness. Research on Narcissus, narcissism etc in Moby-Dick. A reading of both Sedgwick's books Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosexual Desire and Epistemology of the Closet in relation to Moby or to Melville. Exploration of why Melville so fascinated a generation ('50's and 60's) of American Literary critics and the canonization of Melville that coincided with the beginning of American Studies Departments and the subject as a discipline. F.O. Mattheissen, Perry Miller, Henry Murray, Charles Olson, to name a few. Melville's use of pulp literature such as captivity narratives, travel journals, whaling stories, penny journals etc. in his work. Melville and quotation.