Style and Rule
Jeff Dolven (English) & Joshua Katz (Classics).
“In all unimportant matters, style, not sincerity, is the essential. In all important matters, style, not sincerity, is the essential.” Or so says Oscar Wilde. “Style and Rule” is a seminar about the essential, from the linked perspectives of criticism and linguistics. Our emphasis is mainly literary, with excurses into the other arts (music, painting, dance); mainly English, with excurses into other languages (depending upon the constitution of the class). Case studies will include Sir Francis Bacon and Sir Thomas Browne; Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, and Daniel Defoe; Samuel Johnson; Sappho and her translators; Blackwood’s Magazine and the Edinburgh Review; Walter Pater and John Ruskin; Henry James and Gertude Stein; and contemporary examples selected by participants. There will be readings in theorists of style from Plato and Aristotle to Roman Jakobson and Pierre Bourdieu. We will develop a wide repertory of terms and concepts for the close analysis of style, grammatical and rhetorical, synchronic and diachronic. Finally and in some ways most importantly, there will be regular exercises in imitation, parody, and virtuosic self-effacement. You will come away from the semester sounding more, or less, like yourself.
By application only. Applications should include your name, department, year, a summary of relevant coursework, and a 500-word essay in which you explain your interest in the seminar. They are due by email to email@example.com on January 14. Decisions will be made by Friday, January 18th.