Course Info and Requirements

English 166, Fall 2013
Meets in 56 Barrows, MWF 1-2

Instructor: John Savarese
Office: 475 Wheeler
Hours: M/W 11:30-12:30 and by appointment

Description: This course offers an introduction to questions and problems in the study of literature and science, with special attention to “Romantic” science and its afterlife. Romanticism has come to name a historical moment (sometimes called an “age of wonder”) as well as an ideological movement that hatched the ongoing antagonism between “humanistic” and “scientific” cultures. For instance, in his 1998 book Unweaving the Rainbow (a title, we will see, that alludes to the poet John Keats), Richard Dawkins seeks to defend “the” scientific world-view against what he takes to be a continuing, Romantic resistance to science. Yet the Romantic era was also a vibrant period of collaboration between literary and scientific practitioners, in which the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge volunteered himself as a laboratory subject, and Mary Shelley, with Frankenstein, offered what has been called the first work of science fiction. After setting Romantic poetry and prose alongside more recent scientific writing and science fiction, Frankenstein will initiate the main concerns of the course’s second half: the sciences of life and evolutionary theory; computation, robotics, and artificial intelligence; and the literature of existential risk.


  • William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (Dover, ISBN 0486281221)
  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Broadview, 9781554811038)
  • Laura Otis, ed., Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford, 9780199554652)
  • H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (Broadview, 9781551113050)
  • Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Del Rey, 9780345404473)
  • William Gibson, Neuromancer (Ace, 9780441007462)

All texts are available at the Student Store. You may be able to save money by purchasing them elsewhere, but please check the ISBN numbers and use the editions listed below:

Required Work and Grading Breakdown:

  • Attendance, Participation, and Quizzes: 30%
    —Includes discussion; in-class activities; and 1 comment per week on the course blog
  • Blogging Assignments: 15%
    —Sign up for 2 guest posts on the course blog (details and sign-up in class)
    —Sign up to post 1 review (on a web resource, event or lecture, etc.)
  • Midterm Exam: 15%
  • 2 Essays + 1 Revision, details to be discussed in class: 40%
    —Essay 1: Blake through Shelley, due 9/30 (15% of total)
    —Essay 2: Shelley through Gibson, due 11/20 (15% of total)
    —Essay 1 or 2, revised draft, due 12/18 (10% of total)

Course Policies:

  • Attendance: You are permitted 3 excused absences, so long as in each case you obtain written (or emailed) permission prior to the missed class. These absences should cover illness and emergencies. Additional absences, or unexcused absences, will lower your final grade one half-letter per absence.
  • Honor Code: In keeping with the Berkeley student honor code, all written work submitted in this course, except for acknowledged quotations, is to be expressed in your own words and constructed upon a plan of your own devising. Cheating or plagiarism will result in failure of the course and disciplinary action. For more detailed information on the University honor code, see On preventing plagiarism,
  • Disability Services: Students with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, or mental and behavioral health concerns may in many cases be eligible for special accommodations. If you have the need, I encourage you to request appropriate accommodations from the DSP, located at 260 César Chávez Student Center # 4250, by phone (voice: 510-642-0518, TTY: 510-642-6376), or online at

Technology Policies and Best Practices:

  • Course Sites and Email: This course will use WordPress as the main course site and BSpace ( for grade delivery. Technical or computer errors will not excuse missing or late work. The main means of communication with the instructor will be by email ( My responsibility is to answer your emails within 24 hours, though I am usually able to answer them much more quickly than that. Students’ responsibilities are to check their email regularly, and to keep the University and instructor apprised of changes to their email address.
  • WordPress and Student Privacy: Each student should create a WordPress username. The username must not contain your actual, legal name. It may incorporate your first name or, better still, be fully pseudonymous. The username must be suitable for public discourse, civil, and abide by all University policies. Students are encouraged to protect their own privacy and to refrain from revealing personally-identifying information. However, you must in all cases refrain from providing personally-identifying information about your classmates.
  • Blogging Guidelines: Original posts should articulate a new perspective on the class readings and discussions. They may include audiovisual –resources and hyperlinks, but should always include textual evidence. Comments should address the original post directly, and develop or augment it, with further applications or productive, respectful disagreement. The best comments—like the best academic work—demonstrate that the writer is intellectually engaged, and considers him or herself part of a shared project of commentary.

1 Response to Course Info and Requirements

  1. Pingback: Welcome | Romanticism in Literature and Science

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