English 230 - Winter, 2016

Study of a Major Writer

Class Information

Instructor: Ziser, Michael
CRN: 43603
Time: M 12:10-3:00
Location: 120 Voorhies
Breadth: Earlier American
Focus: Genre, Method


    Loathed by James and Eliot but loved by Baudelaire and Shaw, Edgar Allan Poe is the American writer least assimilable into our usual narratives of antebellum US literary history. In this seminar we will take a deep dive into Poe’s poetry, fiction, criticism, biography, historical context, and influence to try and understand the alternative horizon he presents to us. In addition to all of Poe’s fiction, most of his poetry, and a selection of his essays, we will read primary and secondary works on a variety of crosscutting topics, including biography and biographical criticism, poetry and poetics, periodical networks, transatlantic literary currents (English, German, French), genetic criticism, psychoanalysis, city mysteries and the crime drama, horror, and the literature of science.

    *Text notes*

    *There is no complete modern edition of Poe. The combined edition from Library of America (ordered at the bookstore) is the best option, but you may wish to try other editions in paper or electronic forms. The Norton is very good, though not as comprehensive. Mabbott's partial collection is the basis for most of the cheap collections available.

    *Quinn's 1941 biography is still the best. I've ordered it, but it is also available in html on the Poe Society website. Other good biographies include Silverman, Meyers, and the Poe Log (Thomas and Jackson, eds.). If you don't buy the Quinn, get a different bio and share it with the rest of us.


    Weekly Participation: 10%
    Discussion Leading: 10%
    Weekly Responses: 20%
    Archival Contributions: 10%
    Syllabus: 10%
    Final Project: 40%


    Poe: Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays, Edgar Allan Poe
    The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida, and Psychoanalytic Reading, John P. Muller and William J. Richardson, eds.
    The American Face of Edgar Allan Poe, Shawn Rosenheim and Steven Rachman, eds.
    The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers: Sex and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York, Amy Srebnick
    The Poet Edgar Allan Poe: Alien Angel, Jerome McGann
    Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography, Arthur Hobson Quinn
    Pym: A Novel, Mat Johnson