Honors Seminar in English: Monstrous Imaginations - Writing Intensive
This course is the first part of the two-semester Honors sequence in the English Department, and is intended to lead into the second part, the writing of the Honors senior thesis (English 4995, taken in the Spring term).
Monsters of various sorts have occupied a key place in the literary imagination for centuries, and continue to do so today. Yet why keep telling such stories? Are they only for a good scare on a dark and stormy night? A recent theorist writing on the human need to imagine monsters states that the monster is "an embodiment of difference, a breaker of category, and a resistant Other" who is nonetheless dangerously "hybrid." How does the monster simultaneously resist assimilation into "normal" society and challenge cultural norms?
This writing intensive Honors sequence course will trace different forms that monsters assume across historical periods and how these forms raise or imply questions about the threat of the unknown or unfamiliar. These questions include the boundary between the human and the animal, issues of race, gender, sexuality, and ability, the role of rationality and the spiritual, and the relationship between the past and present. Primary readings range from William Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling, from Arthur Miller to Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda's 2016 graphic novel Monstress. Short critical readings approaching the role of the monster from various critical methodologies will also be supplied. As part of our focus on writing in preparation for an Honors senior thesis project, major assignments will go through a process of drafting, peer review, and revision designed to create a scaffold for the writing process. Along the way we will review major concepts in crafting a rhetorical argument and using sources.
Prerequisite: English major with senior standing, 3.5 GPA in major and 3.3 GPA overall.