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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Nancy J. Sisko
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

This five-week course is designed to broaden your reading of fiction, expose you to a variety of authors, genres, styles, and historical/cultural movements, and enhance your written critical expression. We will read the assigned fictional works with the question of madness as part of our exploration. By comparing and contrasting the presentation of madness in our different literary works, we will develop some understanding how conceptions and values about madness have changed. We won't be learning the "truth" of madness, nor anything systematic about medical and psychiatric practice, but instead using these literary examples to start thinking about the questions involved when we (society or a civilization) label individuals or groups mad. We will begin with the precept that madness is often an allegory for other outcast conditions. We will examine how writers have used the allegory of madness to examine how madness has been used to define who does and does not fit (due to race, gender, class, flights of intelligence/ imagination, etc) and how people who don’t firmly fit in have described their precarious situation as one akin to madness. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness . . .? – W.E.B Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903) We will likely read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Freud’s Dora, short pieces by Poe, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Maxine Hong Kingston, Cisneros, Rodriguez, Baldwin, Alexi. There will be a course packet. This course is a “W: course so I must require at least 10-15 pages of graded, out-of-class writing, with the opportunity for you to revise. Revisions do not count in the total number of pages of writing that the UW requires for a “W? course. In-class participation is required and will make up a substantial portion of your final grade, so attendance is critical. Class time will mostly be comprised of focused discussions and classroom activities with some short lecture. Expect weekly 2 page response papers.

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 Nancy J. Sisko
Date: 06/18/2013