Introduction to Fiction

1:25p-2:15p MWF (25) 3 CR.

This course will examine the basic elements of fiction, the “tools” writers use to tell a story, as these have been deployed in short stories and novels over the past two centuries and, more recently, in a work of hypertext fiction. Focusing on the formal strategies that distinguish fiction from other media (such as film, video games, television, etc.), the course will approach fiction as a highly specialized “machine” for producing specific kinds of knowledge about ourselves and about the world. Following a rough historical trajectory, the course will examine transformations in the mechanics of fiction and consider the ways in which these transformations in the form of fiction as well as in its thematic concerns reflect, respond to, and perhaps, transform our understanding of the capacities and limits of the (human) self. Practicing explication and literary analysis, we will enter into dialogue with these works of fiction, attempting to both understand and critique the knowledges of self offered by various works of fiction. Close, critical reading of the fiction will be essential in this course. It will allow you to actively contribute to, and profit from, lively class discussions and, subsequently, to develop your insights on these works of fiction into a clear, coherent, and compelling written analysis. (Please keep in mind that you will be composing approximately twenty-five pages of polished, thought-provoking critical analysis over the course of the semester: this is a COAS intensive writing course).

Required Texts: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; Mark Leyner, Et Tu, Babe; Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl; or, a Modern Monster (on CD ROM); selected short stories on e- reserve.