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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Linda S Watts
B CUSP 190
Bothell Campus

Contemporary Literature

Critically engages with contemporary fiction, poetry, drama, cross-genre writing, or new media texts to investigate questions such as methods of interpretation, cultural identity, historiography, gender formations, or political analysis. Offered: ASp.

Class description

This course seeks to engage students in an exploration of the contemporary literary genre of magical realism. Class members will read, discuss, analyze, and generate texts representing this genre.

Alternately called “magic realism” or “magical realism,” this genre of writing seeks to capture the full complexity of our experiences in the lived world. Writers working in this genre occupy the interstices of the ordinary and the extraordinary, taking special care to capture those moments-- whether of wonder, enchantment, mystery, fantasy, longing, dread, or whimsy—that linger most in memory. Texts in this genre ask readers to tiptoe into the realm of the ineffable, a world of encounters that seem to exceed language and insights that surpass our capacity for written expression.

Bruce Taylor characterizes magical realism in this way: “Briefly, the concept of Magic Realism has to do with the concept of ‘heightened reality’ or the addition of another dimension of reality through a symbolic or metaphoric structure. It gives us a new way of perceiving the world, as if through a child looking at the world for the first time. The term is a derivation of ‘lo real maravilloso’ which means literally, ‘The Marvelous Reality.’”

We will explore magical realism in a variety of ways—by reading it (of course), by reading about it, by writing about it, and ultimately by producing it ourselves.

What Content This Course Will Ask You to Discover:

--What is magical realism? --Where, when, how, and why did it originate? --What attributes do magical realist texts possess, and what patterns emerge through comparisons? --What produces the most compelling works in magical realism? --How do readers engage with such texts? --What is the cultural context for magical realism? --What are the lasting implications of such writing? --How does one create such texts?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

You should know from the outset that the way I teach typically calls upon students to “do something” rather than to hear or watch me do something. What this means is that you will need to take responsibility for your own learning; hold yourself accountable for your choices; interact, question, respond, and introspect; deal constructively with complexity, ambiguity, uncertainty, ambivalence, and nuance; contribute to shared inquiry as conducted by a community of learners; and be ever receptive to, and resilient in, intellectual risk-taking.

Here are a few clear indications that this course might not be for you: you desire a survey course where in-class coverage of text-book material is the central value, you prefer lecture courses, you like to remain anonymous in the classroom, you decline to participate in class discussions and activities, you want to interact only with the instructor (vs. peers), you expect to be successful on the first attempt at a skill, you dislike reading and/or writing, you are uncomfortable with readings featuring adult situations or strong/coarse language, you like best a class where questions can be settled and facts confirmed, you think it will be an easy course because such topics seem wholly subjective, or you are more concerned with your grade than with what you learn. If any of these statements describes you, the course is probably not a good choice for you. If this is the case, I would be glad to assist you in finding one more suitable to your educational needs.

Recommended preparation

No special preparation or prerequisite is required of students enrolling in this class. It is important, though, that you possess intellectual curiosity and a passion for reading, writing, and dialogue. A creative turn of mind is a plus, but you don't need to have prior experience with creative writing.

Class assignments and grading

Frequent reading assignments; in-class writings and at least one essay exam; a course project that includes an oral presentation

Students will be evaluated on the basis of their performance in and across such performance categories as in-class contributions, writtten work completed both in and out of class, a project, a presentation, and at least one essay exam.

If you have additional questions, feel free to e-mail me at

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Linda S Watts
Date: 07/20/2006