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ENGL 200 A: Reading Literary Forms

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 9:30am - 10:20am
SMI 407
Nancy Bartley
Nancy Bartley

Syllabus Description:


Picasso's Guernica.

Engl. 200 Reading Literary Forms


Pre-doctoral Instructor: Nancy Bartley

Office hours: Before and after class M, T, W, Thur.


Spring Quarter 2020: 

  • Literature and War

This course aims to introduce students to literature as a magnifying glass, encouraging new ways of looking at politics, culture, and countries. With increasing concern about totalitarianism and the threat to democracy globally, we will begin this class by reading several of George Orwell’s essays -- and ones about his work -- and then read Orwell’s classic, 1984. Orwell’s dystopian universe where Big Brother is the all-knowing and controlling presence has  applications today in the internet age of diminishing privacy and “fake news.” We will consider Carl Jung’s argument that it is necessary to have an awareness of self in order to avoid falling under the domination of the external collective,  the government or influence groups.

We will also look at how political language is used in 1984 as a means of making the reprehensible palatable and for the public good.  As Orwell wrote, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” 

Following Orwell, we will read Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, an imagined history of the United States set during World War II when the popular, but Nazi-sympathizing, Charles Lindbergh wins his bid for the presidency and the oppression of U.S. Jews begins.

The final book for the course is Omar El Akkad’s dystopian American War, life after a second civil war splits the nation, some southern states are underwater, and fossil-fuel use is illegal. A family caught deep in the middle poses the question:  What would happen if the U.S. turned its policies and deadly weapons upon itself

Like literature, visual art also provides insight into war and its costs. We will examine Picasso’s Guernica, John Keane’s Mickey Mouse at the Front 1991 and sculptures created from the ruins of the World Trade Towers, along with recruiting posters from World War I and anti-war posters from the 1960s.



You must keep a weekly journal or blog reflecting on the readings of the week. No readings should be missed. This is 25 percent of your grade. You will also have a 5- to 7-page paper due at the end of the quarter.  This will be another 25 percent of your grade.  Class discussions  and discussion board posts are another 25 percent. A final exam covering all the class material will be the final 25 percent of your grade.  



Week 1

File: Doublespeak For Thursday AND "Mark on the Wall."

File:  Introduction to Literature


Week 2

1984, Picasso’s Guernica

File: Close reading (through p. 43)

Not required but recommended: Handicapped by History

For Monday read Close Reading through p. 43 and the first 100 pages of Orwell.

Week 3

Guernica by Picasso

Guernica Symphony 

Balada: Guernica

Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra; Mas-Conde, Salvador

For Tuesday make sure you have read Doublespeak. 

In file: Big Sister

1984 continued, film Animal Farm.

Week 4

Close reading file (p. 43 to the end)

The Plot Against America

Week 5

The Plot Against America,  

Week 6

Teddy Roosevelt’s “A Strenuous Life speech.” 

The Plot Against America continue (finish).

"Elegy for Native Guards," poem by Natash Trethewey


Week 7

 Mickey Mouse at the Front 1991

The Things They Carried, Chapter 1 (Tim O'Brien) available UW Library ebook.


Week 8

War by Luigi Piranddello

Soldier's Home by Hemingway

Week 9

Bharati Mukherjee's The Management of Grief

Week 10

Carl Jung-related recording:


Review, recruitment posters, anti-war posters. Think of Jung's "Shadow" when you consider propaganda posters.



Catalog Description: 
Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
January 24, 2020 - 10:50pm