CC 300 HX - Portraits of a Lady
3 Credits
TR 12:00-1:15 pm - Professor Ruff
Cross-listed with ENGL 390 AX

This survey of European and American masterpieces of 19th and 20th century realist literature and art will focus on depictions of “the Lady,” and three ladies most of all: Emma Bovary, the protagonist of French writer Gustave Flaubert’s epoch making novel, Madame Bovary (1857), Anna Karenina, the protagonist of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece by that same name (1873), and Isabel Archer, the protagonist of American novelist and short story writer Henry James’ great novel, The Portrait of a Lady (1880). Short fiction by American realist writers Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, and Willa Cather will prevent this survey from being exclusively a “male gaze,” to borrow a term from feminist film theorist Karen Mulvey whose work in this area will help guide our study. Visual representations of “the Lady” will include works by French realist painter Edouard Manet, French impressionist painter Berthe Morisot, American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt, and a variety of works by American artists from the permanent collection of the Brauer Museum of Art.

Students enrolling in this class will have the opportunity to read great literature, study great art, and explore how certain great realists treated the experience of love and marriage in their master works. Issues of gender and class will loom large, and in James “the international theme” so often associated with his late major works. Student will write three papers, one on each of the three major works on the syllabus, plus a number of shorter papers to help crystallize their thinking and experience of this great conversation of texts.