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HISTORY 200K: Doing Literary History: Orwell in the World (ENGLISH 224)

This course will bring together the disciplines of history and literary studies by looking closely at the work of one major twentieth-century author: the British writer and political polemicist George Orwell. In 1946, Orwell writes, "What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art." In these years, Orwell writes about-- and often participates in or witnesses first-hand--a series of major events and crises. These include British imperialism in Burma, urban poverty in Europe, class inequality in England, the conflict between Socialism and Fascism in Spain, and the rise of totalitarianism in the Soviet Union. In engaging all of these events, Orwell experiments with different literary forms, moving between fiction and non-fiction, novel and autobiography, essay and memoir, manifesto and fable, literature and journalism. Few writers demand such sustained and equal attention to text and context: in this course we will move back-and-forth between Orwell's varied writing and the urgent social and political contexts it addresses.
Last offered: Spring 2020 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ER
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