L204 INTRODUCTION TO FICTION
John Paul Kanwit

16483 -- 11:15a-12:05p MWF (25 students) 3 cr. A&H, IW.
16484 -- 1:25p-2:15p MWF (25 students) 3 cr. A&H, IW.

TOPIC: “Stories and Survival”

“Stories are for joining the past to the future,” writes Tim O’ Brien in The Things They Carried, his fictional account of the Vietnam War. “Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.” Why do we tell fictional stories about real experiences? Why not simply tell it like it is or was? Why are stories important to us and how do they help us survive psychologically? Why do seemingly little “things” matter so much in these stories? What are the different ways of telling stories, and why do these choices matter? We will attempt to answer these questions and others through reading, discussing, and writing about fiction. Most important, we will develop our ability to read stories closely, to determine how they make meaning through their formal and thematic elements. Accordingly, we will learn to analyze stories using such literary terms as plot, point of view, characterization, symbolism, setting, theme, tone, and imagery. Readings will likely include O’ Brien’s The Things They Carried, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, Diane McKinney-Whetstone’s Tumbling, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and short stories by Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Sherman Alexie, Edwidge Danticat, Raymond Carver, and others.

Because this course fulfills the College’s requirements for intensive writing (IW), we will place special emphasis on the process of writing about literature including: constructing a thesis statement and supporting it with evidence; organizing the argument; and using correct tone, style, and format. We’ll also focus on the stages of writing such as brainstorming, drafting, providing/receiving feedback, and revising. There will be weekly short writing assignments, a group presentation, three longer essays (5-7 pages each), a midterm, and a final exam.