Heather L Arvidson
Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.
Modernist Variations on the One and the Many
This class will explore the relationship between the individual and the group in British and American literature from 1840 to 1940. As we read novels, short stories, and poems of the period, we will assess formulations of the one and the many, of individuality in relation to various kinds of aggregation and systematization. We'll examine groups that range from crowd menace and democratic mean to politicized solidarity and idealized community. In each text we'll consider what kind of group is portrayed, what conditions for membership or possibilities for autonomy exist, what status and particularity the individual has in relation to the group, and how individuals might participate in, resist, or be refused inclusion in the group. At the same time, we'll consider how form—especially narrative perspective and lyric voice—complicates the text's ideas about individuals and groups. Nonfiction and theoretical writings from the period will provide historical and cultural contexts against which to read transformations in the literary portrayal of individuality. Rather than settling on a single answer or a linear trajectory, we’ll encounter complex and evolving ways of representing the one and the many.
The course will begin in the nineteenth century but focus on modernism (for our purposes, 1900 to 1940). Authors are likely to include Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Joseph Conrad, Rebecca West, Gertrude Stein, Claude McKay, T. S. Elliot, Virginia Woolf, Marianne Moore, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Nella Larsen, Muriel Rukeyser, and W. H. Auden.
Student learning goals
To perform competent close readings of course texts in written assignments.
To situate readings of our course texts in historical, political, and cultural contexts.
To develop textual analyses that take into account difference, disagreement, and complexity.
To improve writing skills generally and, in particular, in the service of thinking about literature and culture.
General method of instruction
Class sessions will combine discussion, small group activities, and lectures. Short written responses will be assigned as class preparation on a regular basis.
Composition ("c" credit) is strongly recommended preparation.
Class assignments and grading
Required writing will include two 5-7 page papers (one of which can be revised), as well as regular informal writing assignments throughout the quarter. This course fulfills the university's "W" requirement.