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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jentery F Sayers
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

SPRING 2010: "Modernism Now: Digital Platforms for Studying Fiction"

This course is a survey of modernist fiction, with a twist. The content consists primarily of novels published between 1907 and 1953, by authors such as Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, James Baldwin, John dos Passos, Joseph Conrad, and Aldous Huxley. While reading these texts, we will focus less on giving literary modernism a single definition and more on the divergent ways it can be articulated through aesthetics, history, culture, and place. Since modernism is such a broad topic, we will narrow our attention to three lines of modernist inquiry: an obsession with what's new, depictions of the city and urbanization, and the rise of certain media and technologies in the first half of the 20th century. That said, film, audio recordings, advertisements, and some poetry will supplement modernist novels throughout the quarter.

With a twist. And that twist is this: "Modernism Now" is also an opportunity for undergraduates to gain hands-on competencies in using digital tools and web-based platforms for humanities inquiry, specifically the study of modernist fiction. During one class meeting per week, we will investigate how to produce sustainable digital scholarship through new media and their intersections with several stages of the writing process, including conducting research, gathering evidence, and composing arguments. By the quarter's end, you will gain knowledge in how to use the following for academic purposes: WordPress blogging platform, the Zotero research tool, Flickr's Library of Congress photostream, the Modernist Journals Project, JSTOR's Data for Research visualizations, UbuWeb, and Google Maps. No previous experience with any of these platforms, tools, or archives is required.

Since English 242 is a "W" course, you will be asked to iteratively develop and revise a web-based, ten- to fifteen-page research paper on a topic of your choice (within the domain of modernist fiction). By "iteratively develop," I imply that you will gradually compose your paper over the entirety of the quarter, instead of writing a bulk of it at the end. I will ask you to incorporate an annotated bibliography, an abstract, and plenty of collaboration and conversation into that process.

Required Texts

James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain [978-0385334570] Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent [978-0141441580] Aldous Huxley, Brave New World [978-0060850524] Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (Annotated) [978-0156030359]

Recommended Text

James Joyce, Ulysses [978-0679722762] (we will read one or two chapters)

Student learning goals

Learn how to persuasively use digital tools and platforms for researching and writing about fiction in academic contexts.

Become aware of the strategies for composing a web-based, academic essay of substantial length (10-15 pages).

Determine how to select appropriate evidence for academic essays in the humanities, particularly in the study of fiction.

Better understand what the term "modernism" implies as a term describing a historical period, an aesthetic tendency, and a corollary with modernization.

Demonstrate a knowledge of how to develop a research project step-by-step by collaborating with peers, through the use of digital platforms, and with frequent face-to-face conversations.

General method of instruction

Class meetings will blend: (1) Conversations about modernist fiction, (2) Modules on digital tools and platforms, and (3) Writing workshops.

Recommended preparation

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Class assignments and grading

Repeating what's above: Since English 242 is a "W" course, you will be asked to iteratively develop and revise a web-based, ten- to fifteen-page research paper on a topic of your choice (within the domain of modernist fiction). By "iteratively develop," I imply that you will gradually compose your paper over the entirety of the quarter, instead of writing a bulk of it at the end. I will ask you to incorporate an annotated bibliography, an abstract, and plenty of collaboration and conversation into that process.

Exact percentages have yet to be determined; however, grades be will be based on a final paper, student participation, and contributions to the class blog (and other online platforms, if applicable).


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.
Additional Information
Last Update by Jentery F Sayers
Date: 03/01/2010