The Brontes, Fall 2022

A madwoman in the attic, impassioned love, and a mysterious/abusive past.  Such sensational themes may seem ripped from today’s social media, but, in fact, they are the defining elements of the novels of the Brontë sisters. We will adopt new historicist and gender studies approaches to study arguably the greatest English literary family of the nineteenth century. Readings include Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), and Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) as well as poetry by the three sisters and their brother, Branwell. We will distinguish between Brontëan myths and biographical truths and question why their works are read as a literary canon and their lives are retold collectively. Assignments situating the Brontës in their historical moment will prepare students to read critically, research deeply, write analytically, develop visual literacy skills, and participate actively. This writing-intensive course includes 2 papers (one shorter, one longer with secondary sources), an oral presentation, a PowerPoint, textual annotation of the sisters’ novels through the Collaborative Organization for Virtual Education (COVE), and the creation of a virtual case for “The Brontë Cabinet,” a virtual COVE class gallery on material objects (with an optional “maker” component) to illuminate the life and work of the Brontë sisters.

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