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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Balbir K Singh
ENGL 242
Seattle Campus

Reading Prose Fiction

Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.

Class description

Literature of Endless War

This course is a survey of literature in times of ‘endless war’. While the texts often do not take place on the battlefield, the backdrop and discourse of war shapes all of the fictional and non-fictional happenings. The course locates and divides, though not very neatly, through space, time, and event: we begin with Algeria during the anti-colonial revolution of the early 1960s, move to Palestine and the massacres of Sabra and Shatila in the early 1980s, and conclude with the present Global War on Terror. Through practices of reading, discussing, and writing on assigned texts, we will consider colonial and anti-colonial violence, the work of women in the ‘endless war’, modes of resistance, changing definitions of freedom, the unknowable terrorist figure, and the representations of warring subjects.

Furthermore, we will focus primarily on the novel, though films, visual art, theoretical writing, and critical thought will be considered. Our tentative list of works includes: on Algeria--Assia Djebar’s Children of the New World, Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers, and Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth; on Palestine--Elias Khoury’s Gate of the Sun; and on the Global War on Terror—Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, the visual art of Daisy Rockwell and Fernando Botero, and the critical writing of Jasbir Puar and Junaid Rana.

This class will focus on the practice of close reading, and the subsequent translation of our analyses into well-crafted essays that make clear arguments based on evidence found in the text and other sources. Class time will be dedicated to comprehension, examination, close reading, and application of the texts we have read. Daily attendance, active participation, and a clear engagement with class materials are vital for your success in this course.

This course fulfills the University of Washington’s W-requirement. It will include 10-15 pages of graded, out-of-class writing, most likely in the form of two, 5-7 page term papers. The course will also include a weekly presentation component, with the additional possibility of in-class quizzes, short writing assignments, etc.

Texts to be purchased: Assia Djebar, Children of the New World; Elias Khoury, Gate of the Sun; Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent

Student learning goals

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 Balbir K Singh
Date: 02/01/2012