Andersen, Carroll, Wilde, and Rossetti
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students
Course Number: NLIT 3542
Course Format: Lecture
Permission Required: No
- Gender and Sexuality Studies
This course examines the work of three extraordinary and original authors whose enchanting stories teach people of all ages much about life, the imagination, and the mysteries of the human heart. Employing a double articulation that reaches both child and adult, these authors wrote fantasies that, like dreams, take us beyond the conventional idiom of ordinary reality into worlds of wonder and that allow us to explore deep-rooted wishes, needs, and fears. We examine how each of these highly sensitive authors confounded the categories that license sexual normality, valued the eccentric and the singular over the conventional and the standardized, and promoted the development of social consciousness through either satire or social criticism. Each author employed fantasy in a revolutionary way, as a means of countering an overly puritanical, utilitarian mentality that tended to be deeply suspicious of the imagination; and, because all wonder tales depend on the experience of the miraculous, their stories are a vehicle for spiritual exploration as well. We read a selection of innovative tales by Hans Christian Andersen, Lewis Carroll’s brilliant Alice in Wonderland, and Oscar Wilde’s strange and beautiful fairy tales as well as his ambiguous morality tale The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Course Open to: Degree Students