Writing About Literature

Portrait of Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell. Scan of a print. Original housed at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Portrait of Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell. (Image courtesy of wikipedia.org.)


MIT Course Number

21L.000J / 21W.734J

As Taught In

Fall 2010



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

Students, scholars, bloggers, reviewers, fans, and book-group members write about literature, but so do authors themselves. Through the ways they engage with their own texts and those of other artists, sampling, remixing, and rethinking texts and genres, writers reflect on and inspire questions about the creative process. We will examine Mary Shelley's reshaping of Milton's Paradise Lost, German fairy tales, tales of scientific discovery, and her husband's poems to make Frankenstein (1818, 1831); Melville's redesign of a travel narrative into a Gothic novella in Benito Cereno (1856); and Alison Bechdel's rewriting of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) in her graphic novel Fun Home (2006). Showings of film versions of some of these works will allow us to project forward in the remixing process as well.

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Related Content

Wyn Kelley. 21L.000J Writing About Literature. Fall 2010. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu. License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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