ENGLISH 102G Great Books: Seduction & Betrayal

ENGLISH 102G | Open | Semester Two 2024 | City Campus | 15 points


Great Books: Seduction and Betrayal examines a selection of exciting and influential works from different periods in the history of English literature. It is loosely organised around the theme of seduction and betrayal, a basic type of story found all over the world. The stories selected for this course explore attitudes to love and sex, to politics and ambition, to right conduct, and to the business and pleasure of reading itself. The modes of seduction and betrayal these stories offer their characters—and their readers—will be a central question of the course.
This course is for people who enjoy reading. Students will broaden their experience of imaginative writing, learn to read more attentively, think more carefully, and write more interestingly about what they read.
Reading is a fundamental and powerful transferrable skill. We read for information, for relaxation, and many other purposes, but we also behave as readers in response to difficult and delicate real-world situations. When we bring creative reading skills to great imaginative literature, we develop our ability to read more closely, with increased intelligence, empathy, and critical awareness.
As with all ‘great books’ courses, a further aim is to broaden cultural, historical and literary knowledge. The works we read have rich histories of interpretation and offer many avenues for discussion. The assessment for the course offers the opportunity to reflect on your personal habits and practices as a reader, to learn about different approaches to reading, and to develop and express your views in persuasive and well-organised essays.
We begin by looking at some aspects of the history and variety of reading, including the introduction of the different ‘voices’ of our lecturers as they consider the opening passages of the works they have chosen for the class. Over the semester, each of these lecturers will explore how their chosen work is put together, how it achieves its effects, and the ways in which it creates the ‘world’ of its characters, beckons you into that world, and asks you to experience and evaluate it.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply close-reading skills to works in different genres and periods.
  2. Relate texts about seduction and betrayal to a critical understanding of their rhetoric, their interpretive history, and to current discussions of gender and power.
  3. Develop and demonstrate an awareness of how complex issues to do with power and gender have been treated in texts from the middle ages to the beginning of the twentieth century.
  4. Articulate and discuss ideas in group work and essay writing.
  5. Build the capacity for students to become lifelong learners/readers through a careful selection of texts that will challenge and extend existing reading skills.
  6. Encounter, reflect, and learn from culturally different, historically diverse, and ethically complex texts.

Topics Covered

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).
Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.
  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
  • Lord Byron, Don Juan Canto 1 (provided online)
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, 'The Miller’s Tale' (from Canterbury Tales) (provided online)
  • Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
  • Kate Chopin,The Awakening
  • William Shakespeare, Richard III
  • Selected poets, 'Poems of seduction and betrayal' (provided online)

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