The Ghosts of Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and the Brontës (LIT2436.01)

Sandra Simonds

“A specter is haunting Europe,” Karl Marx wrote in 1848, “the specter of communism.” The 19th century was a time of contradictions. On the one hand, there was great technological innovation and on the other hand, poverty, child labor, and colonialism oppressed millions of people globally. Why did Marx use the language of the supernatural to describe these social contradictions? What were the ghosts of the past, and why were those ghosts haunting the present? Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and the Brontë sisters are all 19th century writers who engage with the supernatural. We will examine how the logic of the supernatural can be seen as a metaphor to understand the emerging “modern” self and how that self fits into a rapidly changing society. In this course, we will study the figure of the flâneur in Charles Baudelaire, séances, memento mori, and phantasmagoria in Victorian theater. Readings will also include Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations, Late Victorian Holocausts by Mike Davis, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Villette by Charlotte Brontë, and Walter Benjamin’s “The Flâneur.”


Learning Outcomes:
Contextualize the 19th century in a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary context.
Define key terms of 19th century literature.
Apply critical theory to all texts.
Conduct independent scholarly research in order to produce quality written work.
Engage with literature through creative and collaborative activities.
Create a class presentation to engage discussion of texts within a community of your peers.




Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
W 10:00AM - 11:50AM & W 2:10PM - 4:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: Literature , Updates , Fully In-Person , All courses
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