Honors | Reading James Joyce
H300 | 0028 | Miller
9:30A-10:45A TR BH 321
This course is designed to introduce Honors-Division juniors and seniors,
English majors and non-majors, to some of the extraordinary artistic
achievements of James Joyce. We will begin by reading Joyce's "The Dead"
and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, before starting our reading
of Ulysses, a close study of which will occupy us for the rest of the
We will read slowly and deliberately, attempting to become as many
different kinds of readers as Ulysses asks of us, therefore broadening our
perspective to include some familiarity with classical paradigms,
primitive and Christian ritual, Irish history, literary history, popular
culture, Joyce's biography. We will also view some film versions of the
works we read.
For over a decade after its publication in 1922, Ulysses was banned in the
United States and elsewhere, due to its erotic and scatological content.
We shall deliberately confront Joyce's apparent fixation on sexual matters
(not only in Ulysses but in "The Dead,"A Portrait of the Artist, and in
Joyce's private life and letters) in order to raise several questions
about literature and life. For example, just how might carnal knowledge
lead to intellectual or spiritual knowledge ("sex for thought"--in the
words of the cultural critic, Robert Darnton)? How does Joyce exploit and
blur distinctions between art and pornography, "good" and "bad"
literature, good and bad human beings, or between lust and love, maleness
and femaleness, excrement and sacrament?
Although Joyce may be a tough nut to crack, I'm convinced from my past
experiences of having taught Joyce to Honors students that his fiction
will prove to be accessible, entertaining, provocative, and uniquely
rewarding to any thoughtful and hardworking Honors-Division junior or
senior. By exploring Joyce, we will be embarking on the exciting
enterprise of exploring ourselves, of viewing our private and public lives
from new and arresting perspectives.
Written work will include a few short papers (2-3 pages) which will serve
as the bases for oral reports. An optional extended essay of about 10
pages may, with the permission of the instructor, be substituted for the
final examination. Class attendance and participation is essential.
Grades will be determined by your total performance in class and on paper.
This course will count for Humanities credit as well as for the General
Honors Notation and (for English majors) as 3 hours towards completion of