Wollstonecraft to Shelley

ENGL 360B: Studies in British Literature

Fall 2020

Mary Wollstonecraft (Mrs. William Godwin) by John Opie c. 1790.

In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, a radical and hopeful argument to grant women their status as human beings and citizens. In 1818, her daughter, Mary Shelley, published Frankenstein to denounce human failure to build a just society. What happened between 1792 and 1818 for mother and daughter to hold such disparate visions of what is possible? In literary studies, 1792-1818 marks the end of the Enlightenment and the development of Romanticism. The writers of this period witnessed the scientific and industrial revolutions, and the expansion of the British empire. They wrote for and against the enslavement of humans, the rights of women, and the rights of animals. In this course we will examine art, essays, novels, and poetry to explore how artists and writers defined the human and the animal, gender and sex, race, and nation in times of social transformation. In addition to reading literature, writing critical essays, and conducting research, we will read criticism and theory, develop a digital project, and craft a zine.

Main texts: Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman; Anonymous, The Woman of Colour; Jane Austen, Mansfield Park; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.