ENGL 6330/7330

Major American Writers

Herman Melville's Moby-Dick

Summer Session 2, 2012

Days: MTWR | Room: PH 300 | Time: 330-555 pm


About This Course About David Lavery Texts Seminarians  Course Requirements Melville's Major Works Power Points Agenda  Websites, Links, Readings

About This Course

The focus of this course is Moby-Dick, the greatest novel of Herman Melville (1819-1891), one of the major authors of The American Renaissance. Although we will visit other major Melville works along the way (and Melville-adjacent books as well), with each class member doing a paper and a class presentation on one of them, at all times the White Whale will be our monomaniacal (in a scholarly sense of course) objective.

Dr. David Lavery

Office: PH 372 | Office Hours: by arrangement | E-mail: david.lavery@gmail.com | Office Phone/Voice-Mail: 615-898-5648 | Home Page: http://davidlavery.net/

Dr. David Lavery is Professor of English at MTSU (1993- ), where he won the University's 2006 Distinguished Research Award. The author of over one hundred and fifty published essays, chapters, and reviews, he is author / co-author / editor / co-editor of over twenty books, including Joss Whedon, A Creative Portrait: From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Avengers, TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map of Supernatural, The Essential Cult Television Reader, and The Essential Sopranos Reader. The co-convener of international conferences on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the work of Joss Whedon and on The Sopranos, co-founder of the Whedon Studies Association, and founding co-editor of the journals Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies, Critical Studies in Television, and Series/Season/Show, he has lectured around the world on the subject of television (Australia, Turkey, the UK, Portugal, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany) and has been a guest/source for the BBC, NPR, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The New York Times, A Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Publica (Portugal), Information (Netherlands), AP, The Toronto Star, USA Today. From 2006-2008, he taught at Brunel University in London.






Click on the images to go to the Amazon page for each book or order online from any other seller. Go here to find Melville's Works on Project Gutenberg (Kindle versions available).


Recommended Reading



Click on the cover of Salt-Sea Mastodon: A Reading of Moby-Dick by Robert Zoellner

for a scanned (pdf) copy of this out-of-print book.


Seminarians [Character Assignments]

Jonathan Bradley
[Bildad & Peleg—6/6]
Matthew Brown
Nathan Franklin
Jennifer Hayes
Mick Howard
[Daggoo & Tashtego—6/11]
Sarah Kern
[The Blacksmith—6/26]
Autumn Lauzon
Teresa Bell Lockhart
Ryan McMillan
[The Carpenter—6/26]
Joy Smith
Sally VanDenburg
Victoria Warenik
Kevin Yeargin



Course Requirements

Critical Essay: A reading/analysis/investigation [Ph.D. students: 2000 words; M.A. students: 1500 words] of your non-Moby Melville/Melville-related work.—30% of course grade. Here are your possibilities: Typee Omoo Mardi Part 1 Mardi Part 2 Redburn White-Jacket Pierre Israel Potter The Confidence-Man Clarel Part 1 Clarel Part 2 Ahab's Wife The Art of Fielding Railsea. Please try to read your book before the course begins in June. Although seminarians will only read one book in common (Moby of course), each will come to the table as the voice of/for his/her book: the resident expert offering prophetic/retrospective insights into Moby (or such is my hope). Paper due by 6/25/12.

Major Paper: A source paper [Ph.D. students: 4000 words; M.A. students: 3000 words] on some aspect of Moby-Dick.—50% of course grade. Due by 900 am, 7/9/12.

Class Participation—20% of course grade. Includes an in-class presentation on your non-Moby work (see Agenda for dates; go here for guidelines).


Melville's Major Works

Hyperlinks are to available web versions of each text.

Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (1846)

Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas (1847)

Mardi: And a Voyage Thither  I, II (1849)

Redburn: His First Voyage (1849)

White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War (1850)

"Hawthorne and His Mosses" (1850)

Moby-Dick; or the Whale (1851)

Pierre: Or the Ambiguities (1852)

Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile (1855)

"Bartleby the Scrivener" (1857)

Benito Cereno (1857)

The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade (1857)

Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land (1876)

Billy Budd, Sailor (1924)



Power Points

 America  The American Renaissance  W. H. Auden, "Herman Melville"
The Characters of Moby-Dick Hart Crane, "At Melville's Tomb" Fiedler's American Literature Thesis
"Hawthorne and His Mosses" Kafka Lavery, "Melville's Moby-Dick and Hollywood" 
Mardi Melville Maps Melville, Culture, & Popular Culture
Melville's Letters to Hawthorne Melville's Poetry Melville's Work
Moby-Dick and the Philosophers Moby-Dick Movies Moby-Dick Passages
J. M. W. Turner    



Week 1

Meeting 1—Date: 6/4/12

Topic: Introduction to the Course

Reading: All of Philbrick, Why Read Moby-Dick?; Moby-Dick, Extracts

Listening: Studio 360's "Moby-Dick, American Icon"


Meeting 2—Date: 6/5/12

Topic: Herman Melville: A Life; Moby-Dick

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 1-8

1 Loomings—2 The Carpet-Bag—3 The Spouter-Inn—4 The Counterpane—5 Breakfast—6 The Street—7 The Chapel—8 The Pulpit

Screening: Into the Deep: America, Whaling, and the World


Meeting 3—Date: 6/6/12

Topic: Moby-Dick

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 9-17

9 The Sermon—10 A Bosom Friend—11 Nightgown—12 Biographical—13 Wheelbarrow—14 Nantucket—15 Chowder—16 The Ship—17 The Ramadan

Screening: Moby-Dick (1956)


Meeting 4—Date: 6/7/12

Topic: Moby-Dick

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 18-26

18 His Mark—19 The Prophet—20 All Astir—21 Going Aboard—22 Merry Christmas—23 The Lee Shore—24 The Advocate—25 Postscript—26 Knights and Squires

Screening: Moby-Dick (1956) [cont.]

Week 2

Meeting 5—Date: 6/11/12

Topic: Moby-Dick & Typee

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 27-35

27 Knights and Squires—28 Ahab—29 Enter Ahab; to Him, Stubb—30 The Pipe—31 Queen Mab—32 Cetology—33 The Specksnyder—34 The Cabin-Table—35 The Mast-Head

Presentation: Typee [Sally VanDenburg]


Meeting 6—Date: 6/12/12

Topic: Moby-Dick & Omoo

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 36-44

36 The Quarter-Deck—37 Sunset—38 Dusk—39 First Night Watch—40 Midnight, Forecastle—41 Moby Dick—42 The Whiteness of The Whale—43 Hark!—44 The Chart

Presentation: Omoo [Nathan Franklin]


Meeting 7—Date: 6/13/12

Topic: Moby-Dick & Mardi [Mardi PowerPoint]

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 45-53

45 The Affidavit—46 Surmises—47 The Mat-Maker—48 The First Lowering—49 The Hyena—50 Ahab's Boat and Crew Fedallah—51 The Spirit-Spout—52 The Albatross—53 The Gam

Screening: Moby-Dick (1998)

Presentation: The Encantadas [Sarah Kern]


Meeting 8—Date: 6/14/12

Topic: Moby-Dick & Redburn

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 54-62

54 The Town-Ho's Story—55 Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales—56 Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales, and the True—57 Of Whales in Paint; in Teeth; in Wood; in Sheet-Iron; in—58 Brit—59 Squid—60 The Line—61 Stubb Kills a Whale—62 The Dart

Screening: Moby-Dick (1998) [cont.]

Presentation: Redburn [Joy Smith]

Week 3

Meeting 9—Date: 6/18/12

Topic: Moby-Dick & White Jacket

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 63-71

63 The Crotch—64 Stubb's Supper—65 The Whale as a Dish—66 The Shark Massacre—67 Cutting In—68 The Blanket—69 The Funeral—70 The Sphynx—71 The Jeroboam's Story

Presentation: White Jacket (Kevin Yeargin)


Meeting 10—Date: 6/19/12

Topic: Moby-Dick & Pierre

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 72-80

72 The Monkey-Rope—73 Stubb and Flask Kill a Right Whale; and Then Have a Talk—74 The Sperm Whale's Head—Contrasted View—75 The Right Whale's Head—Contrasted View—76 The Battering-Ram—77 The Great Heidelburgh Tun—78 Cistern and Buckets—79 The Prairie—80 The Nut

Presentation: Pierre [Autumn Lauzon]


Meeting 11—Date: 6/20/12

Topic: Moby-Dick & Israel Potter

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 81-88

81 The Pequod Meets The Virgin—82 The Honour and Glory of Whaling—83 Jonah Historically Regarded—84 Pitchpoling—85 The Fountain—86 The Tail—87 The Grand Armada—88 Schools and Schoolmasters

Screening: Moby-Dick (2010)

Presentation: Israel Potter [Jennifer Hayes]


Meeting 12—Date: 6/21/12

Topic: Moby-Dick & "Bartleby," "Benito Cereno"

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 89-97

89 Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish—90 Heads or Tails—91 The Pequod Meets The Rose-Bud—92 Ambergris—93 The Castaway—94 A Squeeze of the Hand—95 The Cassock—96 The Try-Works—97 The Lamp

Screening: Moby-Dick (2010) [cont.]

Presentation: Ahab's Wife [Victoria Warenik]


Week 4

Meeting 13—Date: 6/25/12

Topic: Moby-Dick & The Confidence-Man

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 98-106

98 Stowing Down and Clearing Up—99 The Doubloon—100 Leg and Arm—101 The Decanter—102 A Bower in the Arsacides—103 Measurement of The Whale's Skeleton—104 The Fossil Whale—105 Does the Whale's Magnitude Diminish?—Will He Perish?—106 Ahab's Leg

Presentation: The Confidence-Man [Jonathan Bradley]


Meeting 14—Date: 6/26/12

Topic: Moby-Dick & Clarel

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 107-115

108 Ahab and the Carpenter—109 Ahab and Starbuck in the Cabin—110 Queequeg in His Coffin—111 The Pacific—112 The Blacksmith—113 The Forge—114 The Gilder—115 The Pequod Meets The Bachelor

Presentation: The Art of Fielding  [Teresa Lockhart]


Meeting 15—Date: 6/27/12

Topic: Moby-Dick & Billy Budd

Screening: "Eloise" (The Sopranos 4.12);  Billy Budd

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 116-124, Billy Budd

116 The Dying Whale—117 The Whale Watch—118 The Quadrant—119 The Candles—120 The Deck Towards the End of the First Night Watch—121 Midnight—The Forecastle Bulwarks—122 Midnight Aloft—Thunder and Lightning—123 The Musket—124 The Needle

Presentation: Railsea [Matthew Brown]


Meeting 16—Date: 6/28/12

Final Meeting

Reading: Moby-Dick, Chapters 125-135, Epilogue

125 The Log and Line—126 The Life-Buoy—127 The Deck—128 The Pequod Meets The Rachel—129 The Cabin—130 The Hat—131 The Pequod Meets The Delight—132 The Symphony—133 The Chase—First Day—134 The Chase—Second Day—135 The Chase—Third Day—Epilogue

Presentation: White as the Waves [Mick Jackson]

Presentation: Elizabeth Hardwick, Herman Melville [Ryan McMillan]