English 242: Reading Fiction
Summer 2016, A term
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 fictional texts in relation to the author, the reader, and the culture at large.
Over the course of the quarter, you will broaden your fictional reading repertoire by reading, discussing, and critically interpreting a variety of fictional texts, authors, genres, styles, and historical/cultural movements, mostly modern and contemporary. Primary course goals include enhancing your critical expression and realizing, as Richard Wright notes, that the critical reading of fiction can help in the critical reading and living of life.
Requirements include keeping up with daily readings, researching biographical and cultural allusions in the fictions to deepen reading experience, discussing and writing about findings in class discussion, writing out-of-class essays, identifying fictional literary terms. This is also primarily a face-to-face discussion-based course rather than a pure lecture course--essential to course success is your critical, thoughtful, daily vocal interpretation of closely-read texts and contexts in each class meeting.