Department of English

Travis Chi Wing Lau


Travis Chi Wing Lau



Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Literature and Culture; Disability Studies; History of Medicine; Medical Humanities; Literature and Science; Gender and Sexuality Studies


Travis Chi Wing Lau completed his Ph.D. in English at the University of Pennsylvania and is a postdoctoral teaching fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests include 18th- and 19th-century British literature, the history of medicine, medical humanities, and disability studies. His academic writing has been published in Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Romantic Circles, Digital Defoe, Disability Studies Quarterly, and English Language Notes. His creative writing has appeared in Wordgathering, Glass, The New Engagement, Nat. Brut, Matador Review, Impossible Archetype, Hematopoiesis Press, and Rogue Agent. His chapbook, The Bone Setter, is forthcoming in 2019 with Damaged Goods Press. He currently serves as an editor for The Deaf Poets Society and a poetry reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly and Tupelo Quarterly.


E 320L • Maj Wrtrs: Restoratn/18th Cen

35450 • Spring 2020
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 105

E 320L l Major Writers of the Restoration and Eighteenth Century


Instructor:  Lau, T

Unique #:  35450

Semester:  Spring 2020

Cross-lists:  n/a


Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.


Description: This course serves an introduction to the British literature and culture of the long eighteenth century.  This period, broadly defined from 1688-1815, witnessed the rise of Enlightenment thinking that privileged empiricism and rationality as the keys to social and political progress.  Simultaneously, novels, poetry, and drama developed alongside and in conversation with scientific forms of knowledge, which led to major debates about what constituted man and the human.  Focusing on one of the eighteenth-century’s great fascinations, the body, we will consider how eighteenth-century literature and art grappled with the material and symbolic implications of the body across the lines of class, race, gender, sexuality, and ability.  How did eighteenth-century writers understand bodies and how did they respond to developing medical and scientific theories of embodiment?  How did fictional bodies get mobilized toward widely different sociocultural agendas in this period?  What kinds of bodies were represented in eighteenth-century literature and to what ends?


Texts: The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: Volume 3: The Restoration and Eighteenth-Century, Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko,Sarah Scott’s Millenium Hall, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Matthew Lewis’ The Monk.


Requirements & Grading: Attendance/Participation: 10%, Weekly discussion posts: 30%, Take-Home Midterm Exam: 20%, Take-Home Final Exam: 40%.

E 329R • The Romantic Period

35009 • Fall 2019
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM PAR 310

E 329R  l  The Romantic Period


Instructor:  Lau, T

Unique #:  35009

Semester:  Fall 2019

Cross-lists:  n/a


Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.


Description:  In this introduction to British Romanticism, we will consider the concept of “nature” as a key term that shaped the period’s political, philosophical, economic, scientific, and literary thinking.  As a period of revolution, Romanticism was defined by ongoing debates about the nature of the human and its relationship to the natural world, as well as the nature of social order and Englishness.  What bodies, practices, ideas were naturalized and which were deemed unnatural?  How did literature represent and reimagine different natures across gender, race, class, and religious lines?  What was the nature of literature in its many forms?


Course textswill include Volume 4: The Age of Romanticismfrom The Broadview Anthology of British Literature, William Beckford’s Vathek, Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, and Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.


Requirements & Grading: Class preparation and participation: 10%; Weekly discussion posts 30%; Short papers (2): 30%; Final Exam (take-home): 30%.

E 350R • Experimental Life

35105 • Fall 2019
Meets MW 11:30AM-1:00PM CAL 200
IIWr (also listed as LAH 350)

E 350R  l  Experimental Life


Instructor:  Lau, T

Unique #:  35105

Semester:  Fall 2019

Cross-lists:  n/a


Prerequisite:  Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.


Description: What makes us, or any other organism, “alive”? From the Paracelsian homunculus to human clones, this course explores the shifting debates surrounding the creation of artificial life and the definition of life itself.  Beginning with the eighteenth-century vitalist debates surrounding what animated human and animal bodies, we will trace the ongoing influence of Darwinian thinking beginning with Erasmus Darwin's theories of biological life through Charles Darwin's theories of evolution and eugenic discourses around blood and race.  This course will make a case for how such theories of life continue to underpin experimental technologies like CRISPR, which promises to better life through gene editing.  We will consider the aesthetic, ethical, and moral implications of real and imagined technologies that aim to extend, manipulate, or even simulate life.  We will also examine narratives about figures who seek to harness these technologies—is it hubris or innovation to claim the ability to create life?  How did art and literature respond to and (re)imagine the making of different forms of life?


Texts: Course readings will include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Erasmus Darwin's "The Temple of Nature," Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species; H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau; Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go; and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.


Requirements & Grading:  Participation/Attendance: 15%; Discussion posts: 25%; Short papers: 25%; Final research project: 35%.

E 329R • The Romantic Period

35495 • Spring 2019
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM PAR 105

E 329R  l  The Romantic Period


Instructor:  Lau, T

Unique #:  35495

Semester:  Spring 2019

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction: No


Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.


Description:  This course serves as an introduction to the literature, history, and culture of the Romantic period.  As a period of revolutions, the Romantic era saw major upheavals in political, scientific, philosophical, economic, and aesthetic thinking.  We will consider the stakes and effects of revolutions like the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution.  What are the histories behind our critical terms like “revolution” and “romanticism”?  Romantic literature courses also typically feature six male poets or “the big six”:  Blake, Byron, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, and Wordsworth.  The goal of this class will be to explore beyond and even challenge this canon in terms of genre, race, and gender.  We will read not only poetry but also novels and Romantic drama, as well as the work of female writers and writers of color writing beyond England.


Course textswill include Volume 4: The Age of Romanticismfrom The Broadview Anthology of British Literature andJane Austen’s Persuasion. Additional readings will be made available on Canvas.


Requirements & Grading: Class preparation and participation: 10%; Weekly discussion posts 30%; Short paper: 20%; Final Exam (take-home): 40%.

E 350R • Vic Maladies: Dis/Ill/Disab

35595 • Spring 2019
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM PAR 105

E 350R  l  Victorian Maladies: Disease, Illness, Disability


Instructor:  Lau, T

Unique #:  35595

Semester:  Spring 2019

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions: n/a

Computer Instruction: No


Prerequisite:  Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.


Description: Throughout the long nineteenth century (c. 1780 – 1914), medicine shifted greatly in theory and practice as a product of professionalization within teaching hospitals and the rise of the specialized sciences.  The Industrial Revolution also produced increasing numbers of disabled people who prompted the development of new institutions and technologies to address this population.  We will consider how the poetry, prose, and drama of this extended period responded to and actively shaped the developments in medical science.  Rather than thinking about literature and medicine as separate, we will examine their shared rhetorical strategies and networks to trace how these domains interacted with one another in Victorian culture.  What new forms of pathology emerged and how did literature represent or even challenge these views of race, gender, and sexuality?  How did cultural assumptions about illness and disability evolve alongside medical theories of the body in a new age of public health?


Proposed Texts/Readings: Readings will include Harriet Martineau’s Life in the Sickroom, Wilkie Collins’ Poor Miss Finch, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, alongside excerpts from medical and scientific writings in the period.  Additional readings will be made available on Canvas.


Requirements & Grading: Participation, 10%; Weekly discussion posts, 30%; Short papers (2), 30%; Final Exam: 30%.

E 350M • Gothic Fictions

35771 • Fall 2018
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM RLP 0.122

E 350M  l  Gothic Fictions


Instructor:  Lau, T

Unique #:  35771

Semester:  Fall 2018

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No


Prerequisites:  Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.


Description:  This course explores the development of the Gothic genre in literature beginning in the eighteenth century alongside contemporaneous developments in aesthetics, science, and the novel.  We will consider how Gothic writers use fiction to grapple with social and scientific problems from political revolution to the very definition of the human itself.  What kinds of interventions did Gothic texts make during the Enlightenment, a period that revolved around reason and rationality?


Course texts may include The Castle of Otranto, Vathek, The Monk, and Frankenstein.


Requirements & Grading:  1) short paper (3-5 pages) worth 25%; 2) longer research paper (7-10 pages) worth 45%; 3) weekly discussion posts worth 15%; 4) weekly participation and attendance worth 15%.

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