Laura Shackelford

2:30p-3:45p TR (25 students) 3 cr., A&H, IW.

TOPIC: “Forms of Feeling in Fiction and other Imagined Communities"

This course is centered around short stories and novels that exploit fiction as a “vehicle of emotion,” to use Martha Nussbaum’s term. The selected works of fiction we’re reading both exploit and reflect on fiction’s capacity to construct, evoke, shape, stimulate, circulate and to redirect or regulate feelings within an imagined community of readers and beyond. In the introductory unit of the course, we will consider the different ways in which works of short fiction and novels evoke readers’ emotions (among these strategies, plot, tone, the sound & texture of language, and eliciting identification with characters will be central). In addition to paying close attention to the formal, mechanical strategies these works of fiction use to engage with feeling, we will go on to consider their explicit engagements with, and reflections on, the topic of feeling as a theme. How do these works of fiction help to construct, re-define, and critique socially acceptable and unacceptable “forms of feeling”? Following a historical trajectory from the 19th century to the present, we will consider the ways in which these works of fiction, and the literary movements in which they participate (19th century sentimentalism, modernism, and postmodernism), reproduce and/or challenge socially acceptable, legible “forms of feeling.” In particular, we will examine the ways in which social economies of feeling work to define and to differentiate people according to gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality.

By practicing written literary analysis and explication, we will actively enter into dialogue with these works of fiction, attempting to both understand and critique the “forms of feeling” they evoke and figure. Careful, critical reading of the fiction is essential to your success 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 clear, coherent, and compelling written analysis. Assignments include regular reading quizzes, two short papers (2 pages) and three longer papers (4-5 pages), and a comprehensive exam. 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 as this is a COAS intensive writing course.

Required Texts:
Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
Toni Morrison, Beloved
Don DeLillo, White Noise
Ruth Ozeki, My Year of Meats
*Selected short stories and critical essays on e-reserve.