The following courses have been selected to help you explore Writing and Literature at MIT.
Description:This course investigates the uses and boundaries of fiction in a range of novels and narrative styles - traditional and innovative, western and nonwestern - and raises questions about the pleasures and meanings of verbal texts in different cultures, times, and forms. Toward the end of the term, we will be particularly concerned with the relationship between art and war in a diverse selection of works.
Description:William Shakespeare remains the central author of the English-speaking world; he is the most quoted poet and the most regularly produced playwright - and now among the most popular screenwriters as well. Why is that, and who "is" he? Why do so many people think his writing is so great? What meanings did his plays have in his own time, and how do we read, speak, or listen to his words now? What should we watch for when viewing his plays in performance? Whose plays are we watching, anyway? We'll consider these questions as we carefully examine a sampling of Shakespeare's plays from a variety of critical perspectives.
Description:This course studies the highlights of American literature, including its origins, its independence, the satire and realism of Mark Twain and others, and African-American authors of the 20th century.
Description:This subject traces the history of the European novel by studying texts that have been influential in connection with two interrelated ideas. (1) When serious fiction deals with matters of great consequence, it should not deal with the actions of persons of consequenceâ€”kings, princes, high elected officials and the likeâ€”but rather with the lives of apparently ordinary people and the everyday details of their social ambitions and desires. To use a phrase of Balzac's, serious fiction deals with "what happens everywhere". (2) This idea sometimes goes with another: that the most significant representations of the human condition are those dealing with persons who try to compel society to accept them as its destined agent, despite their absence of high birth or inheritance.
Description:This course studies several important examples of the genre that between the early 18th century and the end of the 20th has come to seem the definitive literary form for representing and coming to terms with modernity. The class attempts to convey a sense of the form's development over the past few centuries through studying works by Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, James Joyce, and Salman Rushdie.
Description:The course covers British literature and culture during Queen Victoria's long reign, 1837-1901. This was the brilliant age of Charles Dickens, the Brontës, Lewis Carroll, George Eliot, Robert Browning, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Alfred, Lord Tennyson – and many others. It was also the age of urbanization, steam power, class conflict, Darwin, religious crisis, imperial expansion, information explosion, bureaucratization – and much more.
Description:This course considers some of the substantial early twentieth-century poetic voices in America. We'll read the major poems by the most important poets in English in the 20th century, emphasizing especially the period between post-WW I disillusionment and early WW II internationalism (ca. 1918-1940).