English 2300A Prose Fiction (2007)

ENGLISH 2300 (2007): PROSE FICTION * Dr. Kiki Benzon * MWF 11:00 – 11:50

TEXTS: The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction (Bausch and Cassell)
White Noise (Don DeLillo)
Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf)
(Recommended) MLA Handbook for Writers for Research Papers (Joseph Gibaldi)

REQUIREMENTS:  2 Quizzes, 5% each; One Paper, 20%; Midterm, 25%; Final Exam, 45%

PREREQUISITE: English 1900

In this course, we will study the rudiments of prose literature, toward becoming skilled analytic readers. Most of our readings, drawn from the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, will be short fictional works by authors including Borges, Barthelme, Conrad, Faulkner, Nabokov, Poe, and Updike. Through examining various short texts, we will consider literary strategies and concepts such as narrative structure, voice, theme and character. To guide our interpretations, we will read critical commentary by authors including Bausch, Cheever, Lawrence, and James. Later in the term, we will turn our attention to two important novels of the twentieth century: Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Don DeLillo’s White Noise. These two novels, while expressing the aesthetic and political concerns of modernism and postmodernism respectively, evince the psychological insight, philosophical complexity, and cultural critique that the novel form can achieve.

Quizzes (5% each): The quizzes are intended to demonstrate that you have done the required reading; they will be mostly passage identification and short answers.
Paper (20%): You will choose from a number of essay topics. Essays should be 4-5 pages, double-spaced, and written in 12 pt. Times New Roman. Please, no cover page—just write your name, the date, course number and essay title at the top of the first page. Papers handed in after the due date will not be accepted.
Midterm Exam (25%): This will consist of passage identification and analysis.
Final Exam (45%): This will include passage identification/analysis (similar to the midterm), one essay, and definitions of critical terms (from the Glossary in the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction).
N.B.: Permission to write the quizzes or midterm on alternate dates will only be granted if the student supplies me with a medical note.

Week 1: Jan 4-5
F Introduction to the course

Week 2: Jan 8-12 The Short Story
M The Short Story
W Literary Terms; Carver, From On Writing
F Williams, “The Use of Force”; Cheever, “The Enormous Radio”

Week 3: Jan 15-19 Outsiders
M Melville, “Bartleby, The Scrivener”
W Kafka, The Metamorphosis; Corngold, “Kafka’s Metamorphosis: Metamorphosis of the Metaphor”
F Kafka, The Metamorphosis

Week 4: 22-26 Coming of Age
M Updike, “A&P”
W Faulkner, “Barn Burning”
F Wright, “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”

Week 5: Jan 29-Feb 2 Terror
M Quiz; Jackson, “The Lottery”
W Poe “The Philosophy of Composition”; “The Fall of the House of Usher”
F Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Week 6: Feb 5-9 The Short Novel
M Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Hannah, “Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness”; Sarvan, “Racism and the Heart of Darkness”
W Conrad, Heart of Darkness
F Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Screening: clips from Apocalypse Now

Week 7: Feb 12-16 Death
M Tolstoy, “The Death of Ivan Ilych”
W Nabokov, “Signs and symbols”; Chopin, “The Story of an Hour”
F Midterm Exam

Week 8: Feb 19-23 Reading Week—No Class

Week 9: Feb 26-Mar 2 Intimacy
M Mann, Death in Venice; Luke, ‘Thomas Mann’s “Iridescent Interweaving”’
W Mann, Death in Venice
F Hemingway, “Hills Like White Elephants”; Bausch, ‘Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”’

Week 10: Mar 5-9 Realism
M Lawrence, “Why the Novel Matters”; James “The Art of Fiction”
W Lawrence “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter”
F Steinbeck, “The Chrysanthemums”

Week 11: Mar 12-16 Formal Innovation
M Borges, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote”
W Barthelme, “Me and Miss Mandible”
F Oats, “How I Contemplated the World . . . “

Week 12: Mar 19-23
M Quiz; The Essay
W Screening: TBA
F Screening: TBA

Week 13: Mar 26-30 The Novel: Modernism
M Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
W Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
F Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Week 14: Apr 2-6 The Novel: Postmodernism
M DeLillo, White Noise
W No Class
F Statutory Holiday—No Class

Week 15: April 9-13
M Statutory Holiday—No Class
W DeLillo, White Noise
F DeLillo, White Noise

Week 16: April 16
M Paper Due in Class: Review for Final Exam Final Exam: TBA