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2013 Spring Course Descriptions

English 2011  Literature, the Self, and the World: Fiction

Section 001   CRN 31575
Literature, the Self, and the World: Fiction   1100-1150 MWF

When you think about it, reading fiction produces a singular state of mind. Reading a story or a novel—or watching a film or television show, for that matter—we are of course aware that what we’re considering isn’t real, and yet we invest ourselves (emotionally, psychologically) as if it were. That form of absorption, this apparent denial of the made-up quality of fiction, is what literary theorists call the “suspension of disbelief,” and during the nineteenth century the novel became its preeminent delivery system. This course will give you the chance to learn much about the history of fiction by taking on a reading list of works in English spanning three centuries. But in addition to learning much about the history of the form, we’ll lose ourselves in works of fiction, seeking absorption in the sort of frame of mind only a good story can instill. Possible guides include Hawthorne, Melville, Austin, Auster, McEwan, the Brontës, O’Connor, Morrison, Carver, Houston, Woolf, Proulx … to be honest, I’m still deciding. The course will work much like a book club. We’ll read, and then meet to trade observations and questions. Two papers, two exams, and garrulous participation.(General Education)