Thursday, March 1, 2007

Course Outline

Writing Intensive

Instructor: S. OGDEN

God's Funeral
Blog address:

Invoking Thomas Hardy’s poem of like title, A.N. Wilson’s God’s Funeral is a fluid exposition of what is surely the longest movement of the literary nineteenth century: the death and burial of God. Interestingly, an aspect of this long event that is subtly kept out of sight is the undeniably essential act of killing God in the first place. Main force in the assassination was, of course, Charles Darwin, and the blunt instrument was his theory of ‘natural selection.’ Darwin’s account of a progressive evolution from Ape to Man was victorious over the idea of Biblical creation in many minds through the long century.

Fiction, however, often has a mind of its own, and the power of literary art deflected the Darwinian weapon onto a different trajectory. In this course we will look at a range of nineteenth century writers who engaged very powerfully with the idea of evolution, but with a supreme literary perception that allowed them to see into the true radical centre of Darwin’s theory and recognise – decades ahead of the mainstream – that evolution has no direction except survival, and thus regression is as natural as progression.

Tying regressive evolution in with cultural anxieties about moral degradation resulting from the new industrialised urban concentrations, these six novelists represent a counter-force of early resistance to what was becoming known as Social Darwinism; inspired, in some cases, by a literary vision of a funeral without a Corpse: a God resurrected as a power of regenerative evolution.

PREREQUISITES: The normal prerequisites for this course are being waived. Students wishing to take this course require credit or standing in two 100-level English courses, two 200-level English courses and one 300-level English course. To register for this course contact Barbara Thorburn, the Undergraduate Advisor ( Reserved for English honours, major, joint major and minor students.

Scott, Walter Rob Roy
Kingsley, Charles Water Babies
Dickens, Charles The Mystery of Edwin Drood
MacDonald, George The Princess and Curdie
George Eliot The Mill on the Floss
Corelli, Marie The Sorrows of Satan

Recommended Texts:
Buckler, William (ed.) Prose of the Victorian Period
A. N. Wilson God's Funeral

15% Participation
10% Individual writing presentation
20% Group Polemical Project
20% Mid-term paper (2500 words with revision)
35% Final paper (3500 words with draught outline)

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