ENGL 242 A: Reading Prose Fiction

Modern Time: Twentieth- and Twenty-first-century British Fiction

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 9:30am - 10:20am
Location: 
LOW 113
SLN: 
13908
Instructor:
Heather Arvidson

Syllabus Description:

Modern Time: Twentieth- and Twenty-first-century British Fiction

This class pauses over one of the extraordinary transformations of the twentieth century: time became relative. Whereas in the nineteenth century Greenwich Mean Time synchronized trains across the nation and clocks across the globe, the twentieth century introduced theories of relativity that grappled with the elastic, fragmented, and idiosyncratic nature of temporal experience. If the pace of urban life compelled time to speed up, mental life--contemplation, memory, aesthetic perception--often served to slow time down--and trauma to bring it to a halt. The disjunction between public, clock time and private, psychological time was one of the defining fascinations of British modernism, yet arguably it is no less a preoccupation of our own moment. Reading British fiction from 1907 to 2012, this class will focus on narrative and thematic time in order to trace shifting relationships to history and mental life.

Novels will include Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent (1907), Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway (1925), and Zadie Smith's NW (2012). These books stretch narrative's capacity to convey relative time, and so challenge us as readers to adapt to their sometimes eccentric time zones. Alert and flexible reading habits will thus be crucial to success in this class.

Assessment will be based on participation, short assignments, and formal papers: two 5-7 page essays, the first of which you will revise. You can expect to be reading and writing in preparation for every class meeting. Class time will be divided between large- and small-group discussions and short lectures. 

Texts

Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent ISBN: 9780199536351

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway ISBN: 9780156030359

Zadie Smith, NW ISBN: 9780143123934

Additional Details:

This class pauses over one of the extraordinary transformations of the twentieth century: time became relative. Whereas in the nineteenth century Greenwich Mean Time synchronized trains across the nation and clocks across the globe, the twentieth century introduced theories of relativity that grappled with the elastic, fragmented, and idiosyncratic nature of temporal experience. If the pace of urban life compelled time to speed up, mental life--contemplation, memory, aesthetic perception--often served to slow time down--and trauma to bring it to a halt. The disjunction between public, clock time and private, psychological time was one of the defining fascinations of British modernism, yet arguably it is no less a preoccupation of our own moment. Reading British fiction from 1907 to 2012, this class will focus on narrative and thematic time in order to trace shifting relationships to history and mental life.

Novels will include Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent (1907), Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway (1925), Martin Amis'sTime's Arrow (1991), and Zadie Smith's NW (2012). These books stretch narrative's capacity to convey relative time, and so challenge us as readers to adapt to their sometimes eccentric time zones. Alert and flexible reading habits will thus be crucial to success in this class.

Assessment will be based on participation, short assignments, and formal papers: two 5-7 page essays, the first of which you will revise. You can expect to be reading and writing in preparation for every class meeting. Class time will be divided between large- and small-group discussions and short lectures. 

Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent ISBN: 9780199536351

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway ISBN: 9780156030359

Martin Amis, Time's Arrow ISBN: 9780679735724

Zadie Smith’s NW, ISBN: 9780143123934

Course Homepagehttps://canvas.uw.edu/courses/1040212

Catalog Description: 
Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:04pm