Course: Overwhelming Underdogs

HC 222H

Professor: Henry Alley

Following up on “The suppressed voice gets a voice," my theme of last term, we will study changing models of heroes, such as Faust, Elinor Dashwood, Silas Marner, Louisa Lindley, Alfred Durant, Clarissa Dalloway, Prior Walter, and Martin Luther King. We will give attention to reading the poetic or prose texts closely, and to how the unconventional protagonist becomes a primary focus in these great works. In addition, we will look at the rise, as dramatized by the authors, of alternative communities which support the “overwhelming underdog” (phrase from Yogi Berra) and the new concepts of belonging and marriage which he or she may be seeking. The major emphasis of the class will be on discussion. There will be three short papers, several non-graded quizzes and a reading journal (a chance to explore your responses to the literature in a more informal context).

The texts are Goethe’s Faust: Part One, Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Eliot’s Silas Marner, Lawrence’s Daughters of the Vicar, Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych, Kurosawa’s Ikiru, Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Kushner’s Angels in America, and King’s “I Have a Dream.”