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News of Holmesian interest: "Holmes Scholar Files Suit to Put Sherlock Unambiguously into the Public Domain." And for more information: "Don't Imagine That You Can Bully Me." (Related details are available at free-sherlock.com.)

FYI, it looks like my teaching plans are beginning to firm up for the next three semesters. For Mythgard Institute at Signum University, I'll be offering online, international twelve-week courses for degree-seeking M.A. students and "for-the-love" auditors as noted below. (I'll post more details soon.)

Summer 2013: The Dystopian Tradition
Over the centuries, thinkers have used dystopias -- stories of worlds gone wrong, of worst-case scenarios -- to warn their contemporaries about what they viewed as dangerous trends in society and challenge their readers to make the world better. This course will consider a variety of historical and current "what if?" though experiments, including classics such as 1984 and current bestsellers such as The Hunger Games. We will explore the specific conditions that inspired these dystopias, the general warnings inherent in them, and the broad trends in dystopias over time.

Fall 2013: Sherlock, Science, and Ratiocination
The intellectual sibling of science fiction, born of the same parents (the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revoltion), is what its father, Edgar Allan Poe, called "tales of ratiocination." Poe created the first scientific detective, C. Auguste Dupin, who in turn paved the way for one of the most enduring and beloved literary characters of all time, Sherlock Holmes. This course focuses on Poe and Conan Doyle and how their works blended scientific method, mystery, and imagination to create the modern literature of detection. We will consider why Sherlock Holmes remains an often revisited and reinterpreted character with remarkable resonance in our own time, and how the genre he helped to create and the literary descendants he inspired continue to question the idea of order in our universe and how we know what we (think we) know.

Spring 2014: The Gothic Tradition
The Gothic literary tradition began in the mid-eighteenth century in Europe and lives on in various forms across the globe through contemporary fiction, poetry, art, music, film, and television. Mad scientists, blasted heaths, abandoned ruins, elusive ghosts, charming vampires, and even little green men people its stories. With ingredients such as a highly developed sense of atmosphere, extreme emotions including fear and awe, and emphases on the mysterious and the paranormal, Gothic works tend to express anxieties about social, political, religious, and economic issues of the time, as well as rejection of prevailing modes of thought and behavior. This course will investigate the fascinating and subversive Gothic imagination (from the haunted castles of Horace Walpole to the threatening aliens of H.P. Lovecraft, from Dracula to Coraline), identify the historical conditions that have inspired it, consider how it has developed across time and place and medium, and explore how it has left its indelible imprint on the modern genres of science fiction and fantasy.

Sherlock iced biscuits


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 17th, 2013 06:57 pm (UTC)
Over the centuries? Utopias go back at least to Plato (and the name to Thomas More), but I don't know of any pre-20th-century dystopias. What are some earlier examples?
Feb. 17th, 2013 07:53 pm (UTC)
As for Plato, The Republic can be read at a dystopia as well as a utopia, and some of the current scholarship does just that. There are various examples over the years (think of portions of Gullver's Travels, for instance, and Shelley's The Last Man is at least as much a dystopia as a post-apocalyptic story), but the real rise of dystopias begins in the nineteenth century. By the mid-century, there are many examples: A Sojourn in the City of Amalgamation, in the Year of Our Lord, 19-- (1835) by Oliver Bolokitten, "Mellonta Tauta" (1850) by Poe, Paris in the 20th Century (1863) by Verne, Erewhon (1872) by Samuel Butler, The Republic of the Future (1887) by Anna Bowman Dodd, Caesar's Column (1890) by Ignatius L. Donnelly, The Time Machine (1895) and When The Sleeper Wakes (1899) by Wells, The Republic of the Future, or Socialism a Reality (1887) by Anna Bowman Dodd, The Inner House by Walter Besant (1888), Caesar's Column: A Story of the Twentieth Century (1890) by Ignatius Donnelly, The Land of the Changing Sun (1894) by William N. Harben... well, you get the idea!

Edited at 2013-02-17 07:56 pm (UTC)
Feb. 17th, 2013 07:59 pm (UTC)
I would have to see the reading of Plato. I've only read a few of the others; the one I remember best is The Time Machine, which I wouldn't class as a dystopia—the causation of the dark future it envisions is not a bad moral choice by its people, but the inevitable operation of Darwinian forces on human beings in an industrial society.

Feb. 18th, 2013 03:20 am (UTC)
I do so want to audit all three classes, but especially your Holmes class! Crossing my fingers that I can make things work.
Feb. 24th, 2013 03:27 pm (UTC)
I do so want to audit all three classes,

Oh, bless you! I am so delighted that they sound interesting to you. Thank you for even considering it.

but especially your Holmes class!

Good grief - you should be teaching that one yourself! :D But what a delight it would be to have your voice and insight in our discussions. An absolute treat!

My fingers are crossed. Thanks again.
Feb. 18th, 2013 02:59 pm (UTC)
Not too long ago I went to see how frequently Lovecraft used certain words popularly associated with his fiction. In many cases, the answer was, "Not as often as you'd think."
Feb. 24th, 2013 03:28 pm (UTC)
Oh wow - this is fascinating! I would've bet money that "Non-Euclidean" in particular showed up a lot more than it obviously did. Great stuff!
Feb. 19th, 2013 02:55 am (UTC)
Wow. Those sound like wonderfully awesome classes.

And I LOVE the cookies. ^_^
Feb. 24th, 2013 03:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! I'm thrilled that you think so.

Those cookies put a huge smile on my face. :D
Feb. 24th, 2013 06:31 pm (UTC)
Your courses seem to be very interesting.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )