Controversial Classics

University of Otago

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Controversial Classics

  • Host University

    University of Otago

  • Location

    Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Area of Study

    English, Literature

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    A study of literary classics that have attracted controversy for reasons including political content; issues of morality/obscenity; transgressing conventions of form; polemical works; questions of authorial identity and authenticity; controversies over prizes and literary merit.

    ENGL 131: Controversial Classics explores how literature engages debates over art, religion, sexuality, morality, politics, race, gender, drugs and more, while introducing you to some of the great works of English literature from Milton's Paradise Lost to Nabokov's Lolita. The paper also equips you with the skills to take your own stand on these debates by exploring classic texts that continue to divide their readers.

    Learning Outcomes
    -Students will gain exposure to a range of literary texts and contexts and the ability to read them closely and with insight
    -Students will gain the ability to judge and assess literary controversies, to understand the reasons for them and to make informed judgements about them
    -Students will learn to reflect critically on how arguments about literary and artistic value relate to broader social, political, religious and ethical values and on how these arguments and values have changed over time
    -Students will learn to develop a sustained argument, supported by textual and contextual evidence, about literary texts and controversies, both orally and in written form
    -Students will develop skills in editing and assessing their own writing
    -Students will gain basic research skills through an essay assignment requiring them to investigate primary and secondary materials about a particular controversy

    Course Reader, available from the Print Shop (includes selections from John Milton's Paradise Lost, James K. Baxter's "Small Ode on Mixed Flatting" and ancillary materials for each topic)
    Allen Ginsberg, Howl (City Lights)
    Sylvia Plath, Ariel (Faber or Harper Perennial) [but not Ariel: The Restored Edition]
    Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Classics)
    Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (Penguin)
    Alan Duff, Once Were Warriors (Vintage / Random House NZ)

Course Disclaimer

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Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.