Theory of Literature and Science: The Case of John Keats

Course Number: ENGL 233
Prerequisites: Graduate Standing
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 233
Quarter: Fall 2017
Instructor: Caldwell, Janis
Day(s): T
Time: 2:30pm - 5:00pm
Location: SH 2714

This course will examine theories of the relationship between literature and science (especially medical science) alongside the work of John Keats.  Keats was, of course, a qualified surgeon-apothecary (more a general practitioner than a druggist) who boldly staked his claim in literature, making his mark before the age of his death at 25.  We will read a selection of Science Studies, the History and Philosophy of Science (which began in the nineteenth century), Cognitive Science and Biosemiotics.  Because theory alone can tend to float free of practice, we’ll use John Keats as a test case.  My thought is that focusing on one author will allow us both to experiment with the theory, but also to situate the literature in Romantic medical and cultural history.  Each meeting will begin with theory and end with literature in historical context.   We will read extensively in Keats’s letters and poetry, considering not only his best-loved short poems, Odes and literary criticism, but also his long narrative poems Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion