Sarah Canfield-Fuller

4:00p-5:15p TR (25 students) 3 cr., A&H, IW.

What is fiction? By one definition, a fiction is a lie. Yet in another sense, fiction has also been the dominant literary form since the nineteenth century. Why do authors write stories, and why do we read them? We will investigate these fundamental questions as we read a variety of fictional works, from the profound to the silly. By analyzing the basic building blocks of fiction, we will develop our understanding of how authors construct stories and what we can gain from reading them. Are we lying to ourselves, or can telling fictions sometimes lead us to something else?

Our goals in this course are threefold. First, we will read short stories and novels illustrating some of the range of fiction written in the last two hundred years in order to understand the possibilities of fiction as a literary form—as well as simply to read some interesting stories. Be aware: we have a lot of reading to do! Second, we will discuss the fiction we read, both online and in class, not only to enhance our understanding of individual works, but also to understand the formal aspects of the genre (such as characterization, point of view, symbolism, and theme) and how they contribute to our interpretation of a text. Finally, we will write about the fiction that we read, using our writing to explore ideas and develop our analyses in 5 short essays. We will pay particular attention to the conventions of writing formally about literature, including how to structure arguments about literature and how to quote a literary text as evidence. Because this course fulfills the College’s intensive writing (IW) requirement, we will also focus on the process of writing: generating ideas, drafting, revising, and editing. The class will use the Oncourse website to exchange drafts and comment on them electronically.

Janet E. Gardner, Writing about Literature: A Portable Guide (Bedford, 2004)
Ann Charters, The Story and Its Writer, Compact 6th ed. (Bedford, 2003)
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
H. G. Wells, The Time Machine
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Octavia Butler, Kindred
Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate