ENGL 698 materials: Grad Thesis
new media installations and grants
Note to Self

Writing the Early Modern Body, syllabus (08-09)

SYLLABUS and SCHEDULE: ENGLISH 326: Writing the Body


Hollins University, Spring 2009

M W  11.30-1.00

Plea 203

office phone: 6433

office: Swan 203

office hours: W: 2.50-3.50; F 10.30-11.30 (or by email: jboyle@hollins.edu)


Metaphysical Poetry, Penguin Classics edition, 2006 ISBN: 014042444X


This edition only !! Behn, Aphra. Aphra Behn, Oroonoko (Norton Critical Edition only). Norton, 1997 ISBN: 0393970140

This edition only !! William Shakespeare, Othello (Norton Critical Edition only), Norton, 2003 ISBN: 0393976157


Daniel Defoe, Journal of the Plague Year, Penguin rev. edition. 2003 ISBN: 0140437851


Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein (Enriched Classics) (Mass Market Paperback). Pocket, 2004. ISBN: 0743487583.


Three Jacobean Witchcraft Plays: Sophonsiba, The Witch, The Witch of Edmonton (The Revels Plays Companion Library) (Paperback) Ed. Corbin. Manchester University Press; New Ed edition, 1989. ISBN: 0719019532.


Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland: or, The Transformation: An American Tale, Oxford University Press, 1999 ISBN: 0192836803



Other supplementary materials will be available on-line, on reserve, and as handouts



Weekly reading logs/responses and one leading discussion/presentation = 20%

Writing revisions, reading quizzes, presentations of secondary/research materials = 20%

Two critical analyses (one of these will be an expanded/revised log or response) = 30%

Final summative project w/ written component and presentation = 30%

You will be marked down for half an attendance credit if you come to class without your book (2 times = 1 absence)




  • All viewpoints or positions on the material are welcome (all!), but they must be offered with respect and in the spirit of healthy argumentation. All positions and viewpoints expressed should relate to the course material and concepts.
  • You must participate in all writing revisions and workshops to receive full credit. I strongly emphasize revision.  Thus, the writing exercises for this class are as much about the challenges of this process as much they are about what you end up with as a final draft.
  • Since revision is a process I value, I will offer opportunities for us to revise, discuss, and workshop writing assignments together (in individual conferences with me and as a class).
  • The main objective of this class is to take risks and to investigate with expansive energy the concepts and texts encountered.  Two things I would prefer were not high on your list of learning objectives, 1) a desire to figure out what I think and mirror that in your writing and discussion; 2) an approach to each assignment that begins with “what is required of me?” 
  • Several of the assignments and projects for this course will allow you to move across disciplines and genres and to experiment with various lines of critical, experimental, and creative expression.


Some tips for a good experience:


Come to class

Follow all steps to a given assignment, and make use of all resources – resources in class and outside of class

Don’t come in late too often

Don’t miss a class and then ask me to reanimate it in detail or spirit on email

Don’t resist taking risks that allow you to experiment with a new way of writing, thinking, or creating

Feel free to call me “Jen” or “Professor Boyle”

Come to office hours to talk about assignments, course material, or projects

Respectfully challenge readings and arguments that emerge in the class (mine included)


Writing the Body


Unit One:

W: Feb 4th: Introduction to Class;

Images: Michaelangelo: St Bartholomew and the Flayed Skin;

Hermaphroditus (lilithgallery); additional images of Salmacis and HermaphroditusChakras, Johann Georg Gichtel (1638-1710), from "Theosophica Practica"

                        Elizabethan Melancholy (UCSC)

Optike Glasse of Humours and description of humours system, Folger Library

M:  Feb 9th: Assign discussion leaders

Readings:      Excerpt, Mark Johnson and George Lakoff, Metaphors We Live By

Metaphysical Poetry: Introduction; Donne: The Flea; Batter My Heart; The Relic; Nocturnal Upon St Lucy’s; Bradstreet: Letter to My Husband

 Writing: preparation for reading log #1

W: Feb 11th:  Powerpoint presentation (Early Modern Bodies: Cartesians, Epicurians, and Hermaphrodites)

                    Readings:  Metaphysical Poetry:  Donne: Good Friday, 1613.  Riding Westward; Hymn to God My God, In My Sickness; Marvel: On a Drop of Dew; Damon The Mower; The Garden

            Writing: reading log #1 DUE:  Using one of the critical concepts we have encountered to write about bodies/embodiment

M: Feb 16th: intro to research resources

                    Readings: Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain;

Metaphysical Poetry: Herbert: Easter Wings; The Collar; The Alter; Coloss 3.3 (HANDOUT) Cowley: My Picture; Philips: To my Excellent Lucasia; Traherne: Shadows on the Water Crashaw: Upon the Body of Our Blessed Lord, Naked and Bloody

                    Writing: preparation for reading log #2

                                    Resources: Early modern web resources (U of Michigan): http://www.umich.edu/~earlymod/res.htm

Early Modern Resources (UK site): http://www.earlymodernweb.org.uk/emr/           

W: Feb 18th: Student Presentation/Discussion ______________

                    Readings: Behn, Oroonoko (Intro and first part)

                        Writing: reading log #2 DUE: Employing a concept to argue about embodiment in Metaphysical Poetry

M: Feb 23rd:

                    Readings: Behn Oroonoko (Finish); Norton edition readings TBA

Writing: Introduction to essay one: expanding a reading log into an essay


W: Feb 25th: Student Presentation/Discussion ­­____________________

                    Readings: Foucault, “Docile Bodies” (R); Norton essay

                        Writing: group work on mapping an essay

M: March 2nd: Powerpoint, Modern and Postmodern Bodies

                    Readings: Shakespeare, Othello: Reynolds Othello essay

                    Writing and Assignments Due: Working Draft of Essay #1                   


W: March 4th:  Student Presentation/Discussion _____________________

 Readings: Shakespeare, Othello ;

M: March 9th:

            Readings: Othello; Norton readings TBA

                        W: March 11h:  Student Presentation/Discussion______________

Readings: Journal of the Plague Year; BodyWorlds 


March 16-20: SPRING BREAK

M: March 23rd:

             Readings: Journal of the Plague Year; Sontag, Illness as Metaphor; Intro. To Jonathan Sawday’s The Body Emblazoned (R)


Writing and Assignments: Introduction to essay # 2



W: March 25th: Student Presentation/Discussion______________

              Readings:  Journal of the Plague Year; Eugene Thacker “Performing the Technoscientific Body: RealVideo Surgery and the Anatomy Theatre”; excerpt from Haraway, Cyborg Manifesto


M: March 30th:

              Readings:; Frankenstein

W: April 1st: Student Presentation/Discussion______________

Writing and Assignments: Working draft of essay #2

Reading: Frankenstein           


                        Anatomical theatre images:



                                    NIH, Historical Anatomies on the Web

M: April 6th: introduction to final project

                        Reading: Frankenstein  

Writing and Assignments: Final of essay #2                       


            W: April 8th: Student Presentation/Discussion________________

                        Reading: Three Jacobean Plays

                Resources: Early modernity on film, witchcraft

                        The Salem witchcraft trials

                                    Painting of the examination of Bridget Bishop, Salem witchcraft tirals

A history of earlier witchcraft episodes and persecutions                       

Salem witchcraft documentary archives and transcription           


Unit Three:

M April 13th

                 Readings:                         Three Jacobean Plays; excerpts from Malleus Maleficarum           

                Writing and assignments: Artifacts due

W: April 15th: Student Presentation/Discussion______________

                 Readings: Wieland

Resources:  Charles Brockden Brown Society: http://www.brockdenbrownsociety.ucf.edu/

M: April 20th:

                Readings: Wieland

        Writing and Assignments: Abstracts/artist’s statements

W: April 22nd: Student Presentation/Discussion_____________

                Readings:  Wieland


M: April 27th:

                Readings: Wieland

                Writing and Assignments: Draft of final project