This course is framed by two sets of questions. One set is focused on examining the cultural value assigned to fictional narratives. Why are some texts deemed “major” and others not? Who decides what is major (besides Oprah)? How does knowing that a text is “major” change what we notice in a text?
The other set of questions is focused on the relationship between reading, self-making, and aesthetics. How does reading form how we see our individual selves in relation to larger notions of desire and beauty? In what ways does reading both potentially foster and foil compassion? And in an age of declining readerships and the ascendancy of electronic media, why focus on reading fiction anyway?
We will read Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and a third book that will be announced later, supplemented by selected theory on narrative, genre, and aesthetics. In order to best develop answers to the slew of questions in the previous two paragraphs, I will be asking you to practice some different forms of analytical writing this quarter. Some writing will be of the kind expected in traditional English class analyses, but others will use more open formats to better access the deep and myriad ways that reading affects our imagining of ourselves and our culture.
Please note that I do not get addcodes until the first week of class.