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ENGL479C Literary Spinoffs: Rewriting and Reprising the Classics

What compels a writer to rewrite or reprise a literary classic? Literary spinoffs are so numerous and popular that we might consider them a literary genre in their own right.

This discussion-based class explores the intertextual strategies, cultural significance, and theoretical dimensions of modern rewritings of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British and American literary classics. Do spinoffs simply revise our ideas of the past or do they do something more vital in the present? How might we characterize the (re)creative processes that go into a literary reprisal? Our class will be organized around the in-depth explorations of five or six pairings of a classic novel and a modern reprisal or spinoff. Among the possible pairings we will read are: Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights (1847) and Caryl Phillips’s The Lost Child (2015), Edgar Allen Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838) and Mat Johnson’s Pym (2011), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and Victor LaValle’s dark comic, Destroyer (2018), Nat Turner’s/Thomas Gray’s Confessions (1831) and Kyle Baker’s graphic novel, Confessions of Nat Turner (2008), and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) and Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (2007; English translation, 2015). These pairing emphasize the complex questions of race, class, gender, and sexuality that contemporary writers often bring to bear in their reprisals of earlier classics. Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery?

0101 - Edlie Wong

Schedule of Classes
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