ENG 199 - The Text, the World, and the Critic: Narrative and Form
‘The Text, the World, and the Critic’ is a core course for the English major. Participants in the course will develop strategies for close reading and analysis of a range of literary genres, including poetry, drama, and prose narratives such as novels and short stories. We will also be attentive to connections between literature and narratives of history, geography, and the social world. As we explore methods for reading literary texts, we will not lose sight of the role of pleasure in engaging with narrative forms. What compels us to read? What draws us to particular texts? How does literature as a social institution enable us to better understand the connections between our imaginations and the world around us? How does literature help to shape and define the worlds in which we live? In developing the tools necessary to become sophisticated and thoughtful literary critics, the course will also show that the powerful techniques employed in reading literature can also be applied to `extraliterary’ textual forms, such as popular culture, political speech, and the discourses that shape everyday life. Readings may include a play by Shakespeare, poetry by Keats, Wordsworth, Adrienne Rich, and Derek Walcott, a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, and novels by Zadie Smith, Teju Cole, Colson Whitehead, Ian McEwan, and Arundhati Roy. This course is strongly recommended for students who have recently declared a major in English, or who are planning to declare an English major in their sophomore year. In 2017-18, the course will be required for all English majors and fulfills the A requirement.
Special Topic for Spring 2017: Narrative, Form, and Politics: This course will explore various forms, genres, structures, and strategies of narrative, primarily in novels, but also extending to poetry, plays, graphic novels, and films. Issues we will consider include point-of-view, chronology, plot, autobiography, irony, nested stories, narrative and history, and narrative and memory. We will be curious throughout as to the capacity of literature to envision new modes of being in the world and to shape the world the world around us.
Prerequisites: No coursework, but a decision to delcare a major in English.
Anticipated Terms Offered: Every spring semester.