Jessica L. Burstein
Themes and topics offering special approaches to literature.
This course focuses on some of the finest living writers in Britain; they're all terrific writers even as their styles vary greatly. The themes include issues of nationality, gender, and sexuality, coming home and alienation (not necessarily discrete experiences). We'll focus on England, both for obvious reasons and because some of the novels take place there, but the issues of expatriotism, immigration, tourism, and allegiance to one's country and/or self will also emerge: many of the novels give some sense of other countries, or the need to look forward or beyond England. We'll read two books by each author: one novel will be more well-known, and one less well-known. Why? So you get some sense of authorial range, and have a chance to think about what it means if a writer changes her or his style and/or theme—or does not. You'll also need to read a third book of your choice by one of the course's authors for the final paper. Our authors will likely include Anita Brookner (Hotel du Lac, Undue Influence), Ian McEwan (Enduring Love, Atonement), Julian Barnes (Flaubert's Parrot, England, England), and Zadie Smith (White Teeth, On Beauty), and maybe Kazuo Ishiguru (Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go). This will be a discussion-based course, with a final research paper (see above), and is not designed for the novel-timid.
Below are the editions we'd be using:
Anita Brookner Hotel du Lac, Vintage ISBN-10: 0679759328), Brookner, Undue Influence, (Vintage, ISBN-10: 0375707344); Ian McEwan, Enduring Love (Anchor ISBN-10: 9780385494144), McEwan, Atonement (Anchor ISBN-10: 038572179X); Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot (Vintage, ISBN-10: 0679731369). Barnes, England, England (Vintage ISBN-10: 0375705503), Zadie Smith, White Teeth (Vintage ISBN-10: 9780375703867), Smith, On Beauty (Penguin Books; First Thus edition, ISBN-10: 0143037749).
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Discussion, brief lecture.
Knowledge of how to close read.
Class assignments and grading