William R Seaburg
Examines the form, function, and textual conventions of such narrative forms as (auto) biography, personal experience narratives, short stories, and novels. Explores literary language useful for discussing narratives, how narratives work for their readers/listeners, and what interpretive tools readers/listeners bring to narratives.
Ursula K. Le Guin, in Dancing at the Edge of the World, argues that narrative is such a central, fundamental function of language that “To learn to speak is to learn to tell a story.” American culture enjoys a rich variety of different kinds of stories. This class will consider four genres: short fiction, comics, the novel, and true stories, that is narratives that recount personal or life experiences, variously known as autobiography, personal history, life history, life story, personal narrative, and personal experience story.
This course will provide both a social science and a humanistic perspective on narratives. Specifically, it will focus on how narratives do their work: the literary conventions, such as characterization, employment, perspective, symbols and metaphors, and intertextuality as well as on the textual conventions, such as repetition, dialogue, and various other involvement strategies, that characterize comics, short fiction, novels, and personal narrative texts.
Student learning goals
Explain what makes narratives similar to and different from other kinds of discourse;
Apply the narrative elements of comics as discussed in McCloud’s Understanding Comics to a set of comic strips;
Analyze, then compare and contrast, narrative element(s) of two short stories;
Perform a close reading of selected passage(s) from a novel;
Differentiate biography from autobiography;
Explain and describe the consequences of how involvement strategies, described in the excerpt from Tannen’s book Talking Voices, are very similar in works of fiction as well as non-fiction;
General method of instruction
Lectures and discussion, with special emphasis on active class participation.
Class assignments and grading
Exercises and papers.