L204 2086-2096 STAFF
Introduction to Fiction

2086 8:00a-8:50a MWF (25) 3 cr. SCHROEDER(Description follows)
2087 9:05a-9:55a MWF (25) 3 cr. SCHROEDER (Description follows)
2088 12:20p-1:10p MWF (25) 3 cr. YANDELL (Description follows)
2089 1:25p-2:15p MWF (25) 3 cr. LEVASSEUR (Description follows)
2090 2:30p-3:20p MWF (25) 3 cr. LIBBY (Description follows)
2091 3:35p-4:25p MWF (25) 3 cr. LIBBY (Description follows)
2092 8:00a-9:15a TR (25) 3 cr. GREGORY (Description follows)
2093 11:15a-12:30p TR (25) 3 cr. ROSENBLUM (Description follows)
2094 1:00p-2:15p TR (25) 3 cr. HUNTSMAN (Description follows)
2095 2:30p-3:45p TR (25) 3 cr. STERRENBURG (Description follows)
2096 1:00p-2:15p TR (25) 3 cr. BOSE (Description follows)


Representative works of fiction; structural techniques in the novel. Novels and short stories from several ages and countries.


The central aim of this course is to enhance students' ability to examine fictional texts as articulations, conscious or not, of their authors' positions on key issues in society at large. In addition to the elements of fiction (plot, character, symbolism, and so forth), we will examine a series of broad cultural issues that link stories together. Theoretical topics will include feminism, Marxism, reader-response theory, and psychoanalysis; social and philosophical issues will include love and romance, the individual vs. the collective, war and the morality of artistic representation, and science in society, among others. Ideally, the course will remain with students as a critically sophisticated method of reading fictional texts that can be applied to pop culture just as readily as to canonical fiction. Class time will be devoted mainly to guided discussion and small-group activities, with occasional mini-lectures on the more abstruse topics (like literary theory). Texts will include The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature (fourth edition), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, H. G. Wells's The Time Machine, and Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Coursework will include four major essays, a guided reading journal, quizzes, and a couple of group presentations.


At first glance, narrative seems so much a part of human experience that it hardly warrants our taking time to define it. In one scholar's words, it simply consists of "someone telling someone else that something happened." But narrative fiction grows out of authors' choices--a translation, as Hayden White calls it, of "knowing into telling." This transformation is by no means a neat and tidy process, and in this class we will explore many different issues that are at stake when authors shape events into a fictional framework. We will look at topics such as setting, characterization, plot, point of view, and symbolism, using numerous pieces of short fiction as our guide. Our reading will also be punctuated by three longer pieces: Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Morrison's Sula, and Capote's In Cold Blood. A key theme we will return to is that of doublings and ways in which this pattern gets shaken up. This course requires a strong commitment not only to heavy reading (a list on which I'm sure everyone will find at least a few new favorites), but also to heavy writing. Four essays will make up the bulk of the writing, but a final exam is also scheduled. Shorter assignments will include leading one Friday class discussion on a short story and creating a narrative guide for each of the three longer works.


This course is designed to help you learn to read, enjoy, and write about fiction. We will examine the formal elements and cultural contexts of outstanding works of short fiction and several award-winning novels. Critical essays written in response to these works will also be studied. This is an intensive-writing course, so we will pay particular attention to how one goes about fashioning responses into well-supported analyses and interpretations of works of fiction.

The Story and Its Writer (Compact 5th ed.), Chartres (Bedford/Martin)
The Dead, James Joyce
Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko (Penguin Books)
Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson (Vintage Contemporaries)


The subject of this course is the formal and thematic features of narrative fiction. Our readings of short stories and novels will take into consideration such elements of fiction as plot, characterization, tone, point of view, and setting. We will also examine questions of genre, in particular the conventions of literary Realism, responses to Realism, and the complicated relationship between "Truth" and narrative. Readings for the class will include short stories by Lorrie Moore, Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, Jorge Louis Borge, and Virginia Woolf. We will also read a number of longer works including Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, and J.M. Coetzee's Foe.

Course requirements will include two short papers (3 pages) and two longer papers (5-6 pages). There will also be a midterm exam and a final exam.


TOPIC: Fictions of Desire

This course aims to help you learn to read, enjoy, understand, and write critically about fiction. To begin, I propose that we think about reading fiction as an act of desire. Not only do fictional characters desire things of each other, but, when we read fiction, we want something from it. What do we desire from novels and short stories (why do we read them? what do we gain from them?). Perhaps even more importantly, what do they desire from us (what do they invite us to think or feel about the world)? Specifically, what do the formal elements of fiction--plot, point of view, characterization, setting, symbols, theme--desire from readers? We will consider these and other questions through discussion and writing.Indeed, this is an intensive writing course, so be prepared to write and revise regularly! We will use writing to construct strong and intelligent responses to literature, as well as to develop more formal analyses and critical interpretations of fictional works.


A course devoted to the challenges and pleasures of narrative. We will be studying how readers make sense of fiction and how reading fiction shapes our understanding (and misunderstanding) of the world. There will be some English-teacher technical talk (about such matters as point of view, focalization, gaps, unreliable narration etc.) but only enough to help students to read more critically. Hopefully such analysis will deepen rather than dampen the pleasure of the text. I have not made final decisions about the texts, but I try to pick texts that demonstrate a wide range of fictional possibilities. Usually I begin with easy texts and move to hard ones. I try to include classic, modern, and Post-modern works. Some of the works will be chosen by students in the course. In the past I have taught works by Cervantes, Jane Austen, James Joyce, Kate Chopin, Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, Philip Roth, John Updike, Toni Morrison, Grace Paley, Vladimir Nabokov, Don DeLillo, Gabriel Marquez, Borges, Calvino, Annie Proulx, Andrea Barrett, and Coetzee. Prospective students are invited to email me about preferences.


The purpose of this course, designed for non-majors and carrying COAS intensive writing credit, is to introduce you to a variety of fictional genres, and to help you learn to write better about them (and other things). We will very explicitly look at how writers write, and why. Most of the short pieces of fiction (including work by Kafka, Faulkner, Hemingway, Updike, Mason, and Joyce) will come from a single collection, but we will also read a few novels. In addition to almost daily in-class exercises, you will write two or three longer papers which you will be asked to revise and resubmit, because only by re-writing can you learn to write better. There will also be a final examination, which will cover the content of the readings as well as the processes of reading and writing.

The reading list has not yet been finalized, but the following is a possibility:

Charters -- The Story and its Writer
Alvarez -- How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accent
Capote -- In Cold Blood
LeGuin -- The Left Hand of Darkness
Walker -- The Color Purple


Our L204 will begin with a short story anthology, perhaps the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction (in the shorter edition). We'll study examples of short stories and fictions, concentrating on the tool kit of techniques and categories we use for reading and responding to fiction. We'll then read some longer works of fiction. These books will share common themes of eating, food, growth, sustaining, and nurturing. Technically speaking, we'll encounter a wide range of fictional modes in this "food and eating" unit of the course. Our readings and discussion ask how food, eating, growth, nurturing, and communicating have been deployed as realism, fantasy, and "magical realism." Texts in this unit include the realism of Annie Proulx's The Shipping News; the magical and fantastic narrative of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; and Through the Looking Glass; and the magical realism of Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate. We'll feast imaginatively on these different fictional modes.

This L204 is an intensive writing course. Students write a series of four short (5-6 page) papers, plus a retrospective commentary and statement of interest about those essays. We'll also write a series of short (paragraph to page length) informal response papers. There will also be at least two formal quizzes on the materials read for the course. Class sessions will be conducted mostly as discussion. Regular attendance is expected and required.


This course will serve as an introduction to post-colonial fiction. We will read poems, short stories, and several novels in English from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. We will consider the basic elements of narrative at work in these texts such as character development, plot, structure, and setting. We will also discuss these fictional works in relation to their historical context, paying particular attention to how they express their relationship to European countries and North America, and how they imagine relations of power domestically. A tentative list of texts includes: poetry by Ana Sisnett, Rachel Jennings, Ernesto Cardenal, and Antonio Jacinto, short stories by Julio Cortazar, Ghassan Kanafani, Bessie Head. Novels will include Salman Rushdie's Shame, Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters, and Etel Adnan's Sitt Rose Marie. Course requirements will likely consist of two 5-page papers, weekly response papers (1-page in length), and a final exam.