ENGL 242 B: Reading Prose Fiction

Meeting Time: 
MW 8:30am - 10:20am
ARC G070
Nikolai Popov

Syllabus Description:

ENGL 242 - Wi 2019 Reading Prose Fiction

Instructor: Nikolai Popov 

Class Days/Times:  MW  8:30 - 10:20  ARC G070     

This class will read landmarks of prose fiction. We’ll follow the historical succession of styles and formal inventions in Western literary history, from Boccaccio to Beckett, and explore the particular uses of fiction in a variety of genres (short stories and tales, novels, satire, allegory, etc.), with special emphasis on language and style. You’ll be expected to read an average of 120-150 pages per week.

Reading List:

  1. Below are the editions I’ve ordered at the U Bookstore. (No Kindle-type “books,” please.)

Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron. Rebhorn translation (Norton) or McWilliam translation (Penguin). The Decameron is a big book, and we’ll read only a representative selection from its one hundred stories, but it’s one of humanity’s greatest books and every civilized person must own a copy. Penguins are inexpensive. (If you already own a copy of the Waldman translation (Oxford) translation you can use it; most online/electronic versions of the stories are dated, incomplete, and inferior.)

                Swift, Gulliver’s Travels. Oxford Classics or Penguin Classics (you need one). The Norton Gulliver is also good. Be aware that online booksellers peddle all sorts of incomplete and grotesquely mangled editions of Gulliver’s Travels. (Most of you will also need the notes and introductions that Oxford and Penguin provide.)

                James Joyce, Dubliners. I’ve ordered the Dover Dubliners. The older Norton edition of Dubliners contains very useful supplementary materials and can be found at local used-books outlets.

                John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Signet/Vintage. (You might be able to find an inexpensive paperback, with Meryl Streep on the front cover, at local used-books outlets.)

                George Orwell, Animal Farm. Signet.

2. Online Course Reader (stories by Poe, Kafka, and Beckett)

Procedures, Requirements, Grading

Please be aware that this class will involve a lot of reading—and writing. You will be quizzed on every individual work so attendance is mandatory and essential. Your grade will be the sum of four components: 1/ one take-home essay (one grade unit); 2/ one in-class essay (one grade nit); 3/ reading journal* (one grade unit); 4/ quizzes, homework tasks, and attendance (one grade unit). To get a passing grade you must get at least a minimal grade in each of the four components (e.g., failure to deliver one of the short essays will mean the loss of more than one grade unit).

*Reading Journal: your reading journal must contain your own observations, reflections, and questions as you read the primary texts, as well as responses to tasks I’ve assigned in class, and notes from critical sources—but not lecture notes. (You can include your own discussions of or elaborations on things you have heard in class from me or any other participant.) I’ll expect you to write regularly—at least one page per meeting or a total of at least 20 standard pages (double space). I will periodically—and randomly—check your reading journals so you must have them in class all the time.

Tentative Schedule of Meetings


Intro: Boccaccio’s Decameron and the Invention of Modern Prose Fiction


The Decameron, cont.


The Decameron, cont.


The Decameron, cont.




Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels


Gulliver’s Travels, cont.


Gulliver’s Travels, cont.


Edgar Allan Poe (Selections). The Cask of Amontillado; The Fall of the House of Usher; Berenice; The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar


James Joyce, Dubliners (selections): The Sisters; Araby; Eveline; Two Gallants


Dubliners, cont. A Little Cloud; Clay; Ivy Day


Dubliners, cont. The Dead

2/18 H



Kafka, The Metamorphosis


Samuel Beckett, First Love and The End


Samuel Beckett, The Lost Ones.


John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman


Fowles, cont.


Orwell, Animal Farm


Orwell, Animal Farm, cont.

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)
Last updated: 
February 2, 2020 - 10:40pm