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Moby Dick

ENGL 4790: Moby Dick
This course will dedicate itself to reading Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s epic romance. When first published in 1851 critics dismissed Moby Dick as an artistic failure and the worst of Melville’s novels. Over the course of the twentieth-century, however, interest in Moby Dick revived and the work became considered one of the “Great American Novels.” Taking its inspiration from a nineteenth-century maritime industry that hunted whales for their oil (we might think of the novel’s ship the Pequod as the precursor to today’s deep sea oil rigs), Moby Dick transforms the genre of the sea voyage into a meditation on the individual’s obligation to society in a democracy grounded in capitalist enterprise. The text at turns biblical, Shakespearean, and Romantic synthesizes a host of literary and real-life influences into a political allegory that considers the theological and ethical implications of the “American experiment” based in industrialization, slavery, and westward expansion.

Students will be responsible for weekly response papers and two 5-7pg papers.

Required Texts: Moby Dick, Norton Critical Editions, Series: Norton Critical Editions, ISBN-10: 0393972836, ISBN-13: 978-0393972832; Course Reader available at Bel Jean's Print Center on Braod Street.