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Studies in Literature--Global Fin de Siecles: End Times in Late 19th and Early 20th Century Literature

This course explores how, for writers at the end of the nineteenth century [the fin de siècle], making the self was both an absorbing project and a besetting anxiety. How, we will ask, did these authors imagine the “art of the self” amid the rise of urban mass culture, of empire and cosmopolitanism, of “New Women” and transgressive sexuality, of evolutionary theory and apocalypticism, and of a modern sensibility defined variously as “decadent,” blasé, belated, melancholy, nostalgic, anarchic, effeminate, and queer? Victorian end times were as threatening as they were promising, and fin-de-siècle literature embraced this ambivalent cultural ethos, whether by exploiting “degenerate” forms and mores or by championing new practices of social and aesthetic regeneration. Our class will trace these trends and influences within a comparative global context, focusing both on British and Anglophone writing and on translated works from China and India. Readings may include fiction, essays, and poetry by authors such as Kate Chopin, Conan Doyle, Michael Field [Katherine Harris Bradley & Edith Emma Cooper], Thomas Hardy, Gerard Manley Hopkins, J. K. Huysmans, Amy Levy, L. T. Meade, Walter Pater, Krupabai Satthianadhan, Lao She, Bram Stoker, Rabindranath Tagore, H. G. Wells, and Oscar Wilde. Requirements: two papers, a take-home midterm essay exam, and a variety of shorter assignments.

Course Number

ENGL 257 C1

Course Number (Cross Listing 1)

CPLT 231 C1


Ketabgian, Tamara S.





Course Format


Course Format Description

Class will consist of both asynchronous recorded lectures/ assignments and required synchronous meetings that students may complete online or in- person. Synchronous in-person meetings will occur in smaller groups for a maximum of 2x/week (distributed over MW 8:15-10 am and Th 8:15-9:15 am as needed). Other small group activities and writing conferences will occur either in person or remotely.

Time Slot

Mid Afternoon



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