Totally Intimidated

I was sort of dreading teaching lit theory and felt totally intimidated by it, but I’ve sketched out my plan for this first week of theory (Aestheticism & Semiotics), and I think it’s actually going to be fun, esp. since I get to teach Christina Rossetti and Poe. Hopefully fun for the students too — my students have generally really enjoyed Poe, so fingers crossed.

Kind of a breakneck speed on the theory, though, which is going to take a little getting used to! We spent weeks and weeks on semiotics in grad school…


(I’ll be adding some brief lecture videos to this, but I’m going to record them in the morning. Getting sleepy, and I’ll be more coherent right after coffee, I suspect.)

Part 1: Due by midnight, Tuesday 1/19

• Christina Rossetti poem, “Goblin Market” ( or listen to a reading by Jane Aker on YouTube (26 minutes):
• Wikipedia page on “Goblin Market” (
• browse illustrations from “Goblin Market” (do a google image search for ‘goblin market illustration’)

• Upstone, Aesthetics chapter, part 1 (stop at Symbolism)

WATCH (after reading the poem), optional:

• 5 minute movie based on the poem (

• one journal entry for “Goblin Market” (you might consider Pater’s idea of ‘the ecstatic moment’ and how it’s portrayed in this poem) and one for part 1 of Aesthetics (2 entries) – for the second, you might address the idea of ‘art for art’s sake’ / beauty as the sole goal of art

• three more Slack comments on classmates’ entries (from this week or previous week)

Part 2: Class on Zoom Wednesday 1/3 @ 10
• review of Rossetti & Upstone
• discussion of art & morality
• brief intro to semiotics (Saussure / Barthes) and breakout room semiotic practice
• preview of Poe

• discussion of new aesthetic ideas around ‘great literature’ (and who gets to write it)

Part 3: Due by midnight, Sunday 1/24 (but strongly recommend you start sooner)

• Upstone, Aesthetics chapter, part 2 (start with Symbolism) — this is a little dense, so start it early and take it slow; she covers a lot very quickly
• Edgar Allen Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado” (

• Edgar Allen Poe, “The Raven” (

• one journal entry for each reading (3 readings)

• three comments on classmates’ journals (start with journals that don’t have responses yet)


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