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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Douglas P Collins
C LIT 362
Seattle Campus

Topics in Modern Literature

Explores topics in literature and cultures of the modern world (approximately 1800-present) across national and regional cultures, such as particular movements, authors, genres, themes, or problems.

Class description

Music of the Novel

“It vanishes of itself.� Hegel said of music. Undoing the world and then annihilating itself in the process, it was the aesthetic form of what he termed “the double negation.� The conflicted awareness of the point haunts modern literary doctrine and the practices it was born to match. “Music above all,� Verlaine said, describing what he felt to be the proper aspiration of poetry. Poetry sought to become music, wrote Schiller, and Valéry said that all of his poems were not worth a single bar of Wagner’s Lohengrin. Such was the inferiority anxiety of one genre. But what of the novel? Henry James warned that a mad person could not be a protagonist of a narrative. Since with this individual there was no accountability—that responsibility that produces the pressure of narrative--there was no tale to tell. The music novel became the site of the testing of the point. From Diderot to Mann, Quignard and Bernhard, the genre of worldly adjusting risks exploding upon contact with the spectacle of the individual consumed by the drive to open form. Nietzsche noticed the problem in Daybreak: “[Music] can transform itself into everything and has to transform itself because, like the demon of the sea, it has itself no character.� The contagion of music madness, i.e. the madness of the unlimited mimetic, (“Terrified above all of itself,� said Nietzsche) overwhelms individual judgment, as well as that of the poisoned community upon which one can no longer count to reestablish the saving differences that are the basis of peaceful interaction. In the music novel both the novel and music—in reciprocal horror and envy, reciprocal recognition and nonrecognition-discover the limits of their powers to socialize and desocialize, steer the group either towards or away from the Dark Side that took the (non)form of an unconstrained, contentless mimesis.

Student learning goals


Diderot, Rameau’s Nephew Thomas Bernhard, Wittgenstein’s Nephew Balzac, Cousin Pons Tolstoy, The Kreuzter Sonata Kafka, “Josephine the Mouse Singer” Broch, The Death of Virgil Mann, Doctor Faustus Pascal Quignard, All the Mornings of the World

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

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 Douglas P Collins
Date: 05/23/2010