Sarah N Terry
Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.
This description is for English 242D, Spring 2009 M-Th 11:30
Reading Fiction: Novel Responses The overall goals of this course are to equip you with techniques for and practice in reading and responding critically to fiction, specifically the novel. Even more specifically, we will be reading a series of retellings of major 19th-century novels by 20th- and 21st-century authors. With each text we read, the focus will be on developing close-reading practices that help us engage in and hopefully enjoy the reading process. One of our goals for this quarter will be to consider what it is about these particular novels that demands a response in the form of a second novel, asking questions such as: What is lost or gained in these novel retellings? What happens to the literary conventions in the original novels such as setting, point of view, and characterization when these novels are rewritten a century later? How do the responding authors play with the original texts? How does such play alter our responses as readers to each text? Though our selections will be paired off, we will not be considering each pair in isolation. That is, in all the fiction we read together we will focus on the social, political, and philosophical implications of the genre, considering the possibilities of fiction – specifically novels – as representative of human experience. Along the way, we will read accompanying works of literary criticism in order to situate our critical responses within existing critical conversations, asking how claims other readers of literature have made compare to our own findings and interests.
Texts: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre [Norton, ISBN 978-0393975420]; Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea [Norton, ISBN 978-0393960129]; Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness [Norton, ISBN 978-0393926361]; Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians [Penguin, ISBN 978-0140061109]; Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray [Norton, ISBN 978-0-393-92754-2]; Will Self, Dorian (2002) [Grove, ISBN 978-0802140470]; possibly a photocopied course packet.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading
Course requirements include a demanding reading schedule, short reading responses, active in-class participation, presentation and discussion leading responsibilities, an annotated bibliography of critical sources, and a final 8-10 page paper with required revisions.