This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2021-2022
ENGL 13186-16: Leadership and Literature
Instructor: Essaka Joshua
This course explores the character and actions of leaders confronted with difficult decisions. Our case studies will come from British literature between 1796 and 1902. We will examine how men and women in positions of responsibility face tests, plan, grow, strategize, communicate, develop a moral code, manage people, and come to know themselves. The course focuses on the change-makers in Victorian literature as they exploit success, power, progress, and engage in a fast-changing economy. Leaders in Victorian novels solve problems, create plans, manage groups, balance principles and pragmatism, develop their own style and philosophies, and take advantage of the systems around them. They display driving ambition and have moments of doubt. They emerge in legitimate and illegitimate contexts. They coerce, terrorize, inspire. They are self-made and yet enabled by the contexts that produce them. They face the challenges of gender, race, religion, class, disability, and poverty. In this class, we will ask: What are the key activities of leadership? What is strong or weak leadership? What are the relationships between leaders and followers? We will discuss the ‘great man’ theory (and great women), leadership traits, leadership skills, and emerging paradigms of leadership such as charismatic leadership, ethical leadership, and servant leadership. We will learn how to situate literature within multiple contexts, analyze, how it is constructed, and what it can teach us about leadership in the modern world. We will explore different ways to read, using a range of theoretical lenses. As we develop our approaches to critical analysis, we will learn to appreciate the important place of leadership in literary texts, and of literature as a wealth of experiences from which we can learn.