Jan 25 2010

Course Description

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ENGL 177: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

Moby Dick

Welcome. You have just embarked upon a voyage of adventure and quietude, terror and pity, action and perception, fiction and fact. Your reading of the great novel by Herman Melville – which came under attack by critics in his own time, but was rediscovered in the early twentieth century as a work of genius or madness or both – will feel, at times, like the ship voyage it depicts: both easy and difficult, joyful and taxing. But I promise it will be fulfilling to read one of the American greats in the context of this course, where you will learn about the man who wrote this book, the sources and historical background of it, and the critical theory that surrounds it.

This is a six-week course, which means that it has a semester’s worth of work packed into a short span. Each session will consist of a mix of lecture and discussion. The course goal is to help you read this novel, and get to know Melville through this novel, and to acquaint you with the ways that readers and literary critics think as we tackle this work of imaginative art.

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