Around 1845, three sisters in a remote town in Yorkshire effectively converted their father’s humble parsonage into a family writers’ colony. In 1846, each published her first novel–two of which would go on to become major classics. Within 8 years, all three sisters were dead, but by then they had produced seven of the most formally innovative, socially challenging, original and powerful works in English fiction. We will read them all, from Charlotte¿s best-selling love story, Jane Eyre, to the underrated Anne’s brilliant and disturbing anatomy of an abusive marriage, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, to Emily’s singular masterpiece Wuthering Heights, as well as their poetry and selections from the voluminous fantasy fiction they created together as children. We will also read Elizabeth Gaskell’s acclaimed 1857 Life of Charlotte Bronte, the first full-length biography of a woman novelist by a woman novelist, which began the process of making the Brontës the cult figures they remain today. Reading these works together in the bicentennial year of Anne’s birth, we will consider how their shared efforts helped all three sisters to push through boundaries few other women writers had dared to challenge. In a similar spirit of collaboration, we will mix critical and creative writing in our responses to these works.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
discussion, two critical essays and two short creative pieces
a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
English majors, WGSS majors, seniors
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL Literary Histories B