Rebecca Wood

9:30a-10:45a TR (25 students) 3 cr., A&H, IW.

Officially speaking, L204 provides an overview of representative works of fiction that will give you a foundation for understanding the genre as a whole. We will be studying structural techniques within both novels and short stories from different time periods and countries. The course is designed to help you develop the skills of close textual analysis that you will need in order to study fiction. Its primary aims are to prepare you to read carefully, analyze thoughtfully, and write clearly about fiction; and to provide you with an overview of basic fictional forms and techniques. Since this course fulfills the Intensive Writing requirement, there will be frequent writing assignments, including formal essays and a series of one-page responses.

More specifically, we will be focusing on how fiction, “telling stories,” represents different forms of human suffering. How can an author depict suffering without alienating her readers? Are there particular techniques that recur in relation to this narrative challenge? What kinds of pressure does suffering put on narrative voice, plot, and setting? How have the techniques changed over the course of a century that has seen the rise of “scrapbooking” and Antiques Roadshow as expressions of memory and history? Focusing on mechanical, formal, and thematic approaches to suffering, we will follow an historical trajectory that will take us from the 19th to the 20th century and will include works by authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Charles Chesnutt, William Faulkner, Clarice Lispector, Yasunari Kawabata, Toni Morrison, Tim O’Brien and Yann Martel.