English 242: Reading Fiction
Dr. E. Laurie George
“It had been my accidental reading of fiction and literary criticism that had evoked in me
vague glimpses of life’s possibilities.”
“Each writer's prejudices, tastes, background, and experience tend to limit the kinds
of characters, actions, and settings he can honestly care about, since by nature of our mortality we care about what we know and might possibly lose (or have already lost), dislike that which threatens what we care about, and feel indifferent toward that which has no visible bearing on the safety of the people and things we love.”
The Art of Fiction
This intensive 5-week course is an introduction to various theoretical and practical strategies for reading fiction. We will concentrate on reading and interpreting mostly shorter fictional texts in relation to the author, the reader, and the culture at large. We will read and discuss a number of genres, such as realistic fiction, science fiction, and comics/graphic fiction. Primary course goals include enhancing your critical expression and realizing, as Richard Wright notes above, that the critical reading of fiction can help in expanding life’s possibilities.
Requirements include keeping up with and discussing critically in class daily readings, researching biographical and cultural allusions in the fictions to deepen reading experience, writing a midterm and final exam—both will include objective identification sections as well as essay portions.