ENGL 337 A: The Modern Novel

Meeting Time: 
TTh 9:30am - 11:20am
Location: 
ECE 045
SLN: 
14266
Instructor:
Jessica Burstein
Jessica Burstein

Syllabus Description:

The Modern Novel: Telling Tales

This class introduces students some of the best and/or important literary texts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. “Modern” is a tough word (it’s old), so we begin by thinking about that, then jump into novels that overtly feature the relationship of the past to the present—whether it’s personal memory, historical monument, ghosts, or a scrap of paper that no one [besides the reader] reads. In a way this is about curating the story you tell yourself and others—or have told about you. Who gets to tell stories matters.

Recurrent points will include the role of the modern woman and gender identity. I’m  sneakily interested in the role of fashion and how it connects to identity. And I’m also interested in the role of lying, or something not being true. (Fingers crossed behind back.) We’ll investigate innovations in form--shape shifting--and morphing the relation of self and society. 

Authors/texts will include (maybe) Joseph Conrad, Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Mrs. Dalloway, Daphne DuMaurier’s blockbuster novel (later made into Hitchcock’s iconic film) Rebecca; and our moment’s amazing Ali Smith. Other nominees include Sally Rooney.  The course stresses close reading, but no prior experience is necessary—you’ll know how to do it by the time you’re done.

We proceed as a mix of lecture and discussion. Grading is based on informed participation, a series of short response papers, papers, and possibly quizzes. We will read hard copy. Fact.

Schedule

 

Week 1: Art and Life

Tuesday: 7 January Introduction

Thursday: 9 January Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

           

            Week 2: Doubles (Art/Life 2)

Tuesday 14 January:  Wilde. RP #1 due

Thursday 16 January: Wilde

 

Week 3 Ghosts (Past/Present)

Tuesday 21 January: Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway                         

Thursday 23 January: Woolf.

 

Week 4: Fashion

Tuesday 28 January: Woolf         RP #2 due                                                     

Thursday 30 January:  Woolf, “Dalloway”; Woolf, “The New Dress” (in Canvas, “Files”)

 

Week 5

Tuesday 4 February: DuMaurier Rebecca         

Thursday   6 February: DuMaurier  RP #3 due                           

 

Week 6: Echoes

Tuesday 11 February: DuMaurier

Thursday 13 February: No class.

 

Week 7: Ghosts: Past and Present; Lies; Art and Life

Tuesday 18 February:    Smith How to be Both     Paper # 1 due      

Thursday 20 February:   Smith

 

Week 8: Past and Present; Art and Life; Ghosts

Tuesday 25 February Smith

Thursday 27 February: Smith

 

Week 9: Growing Up

Tuesday 3 March: Rooney, Normal People; RP #4 due on Smith by start of class--on Canvas, here.      

Thursday 5 March: Rooney RP #5 due

 

Week 10:

Tuesday 10 March Rooney

Thursday 12 March: Concluding Discussion: What Should Fiction to Do For You and/or The World? 

Final paper due by noon 13 March Padelford A502.

 

Course Requirements

 

  1. Complete the reading by the day we begin discussion.

 

  1. On a related note, informed contribution to class discussion is part of the course grade. You must be present to achieve this. Depending on my sense of class engagement, in-class quizzes may be given. Quizzes may not be taken belatedly without medical documentation regarding an absence. N.B.: If you miss class, do not email me to explain why. Contact a class member to catch up.

 

3. Written Work. Style matters in this as in all things. All written work must be stapled and typed, with numbered pages and one-inch margins; employ a standard 12-point font, standard paragraphing and standard spacing, not the default spacing that Word or Pages may supply, which insert spaces between paragraphs. Proofread. See “Marginal Comments” under “Files” in the Canvas website for this class. If you hand in pieces of paper that aren’t attached to each other, you are responsible for any issues that arise as a result of your aleatory approach.

 

A) Response Papers. Being a good reader means being an active reader. The intellectual purpose of the response papers is to transform you into a more active reader: they should (a) start you thinking critically (as a critic, not simply a nay-sayer) and in a focused manner about the material; and to give me a chance to register your impressions and adjust our discussions accordingly.

            On the days indicated you will turn in a single-spaced, substantive one-page response paper formulated around a specific question or issue having to do with the text under discussion that day. Your response paper will receive either a check minus, check, or a check plus. Check minuses mean you need to try harder next time (see the comments on where to begin); checks mean you are doing fine; check pluses mean you have moved beyond fine. I tend to be parsimonious with check pluses. A series of checks is a solid performance, and combined with good paper grades mean you’re doing quite well.  At the end of the quarter I will assess your performance on and trajectory of the response papers over the arc of the course as a whole.            

 

  • You may formulate your response papers as a question, one which you begin to consider how to answer, or explain why the question emerges as an important one. In addition to being focused, the question you engage should not be answered readily by a simple yes or no. The second step will be to ask a question that can be readily pursued by a page of your writing. Avoid questions like “What is the author's intention in using X?"; "What is the deeper meaning of Y?": they’re too big. (Our class also has an embargo upon the phrase “deeper meaning.”) Indeed, you are relieved of the burden of answering the question definitively—but you should begin to answer the question intelligently. Think concretely, and stay focused on what the text tells you, not what your impressions are at a general level. If you take a second thing from this class, it should be understanding in your gut/brain that specificity matters. Regard it as a mini-paper, but one for which you do not need a thesis.
  • Do not use first person. Avoid reference to “the reader.” This will force you to focus on the text. (“I love how X happens” will become “X is an important issue because [some reason more specific than your love for it: the way it mattered to the text, the way it was reversed later, etc.].”)
  • Go in fear of the intentional fallacy. I also strongly urge you to avoid a-historical association (the color pink used to be associated with boys; and blue with girls).
  • Use quotations from the text, cited parenthetically with page number, like “this” (42), to reference or explain your question, and your answer or tentative answers to it; or to explain why the question is an important one. The point is to keep you "close" to the text; don't speculate or engage in generalizations. Occasionally you may be asked to verbally present your response paper to the class.
  • I may announce specific directions for the next response paper. If you turn in a response paper that does not respond to that announcement, it will count as a zero.
  • Response papers may not be turned in handwritten, late, or early. If you miss the class, your response paper will not be accepted.

 

B) Full Papers. Late papers are graded as such. If very late, they may not be accepted. You will receive further details before each due date, but can anticipate:

            Paper #1: 4 pages. Close reading of a single paragraph.

Paper #2: More than that, page-wise and probably text-wise.

                       

  1. GRADING: Paper #1: 30%; Paper #2: 40%; Participation and response papers: 30%

 

Marginal Comments: The Lexicon

I write comments on papers so you can improve. The overwhelming majority of the students who actively contemplate my comments report a marked improvement in their writing. You may find in the margins standard editorial abbreviations indicating errors and problems. Making the same mistakes repeatedly over the course of the quarter will weigh increasingly heavily against the grade. See Canvas, “Files” for this list of common student errors and the abbreviations used.

 

Do not plagiarize. All sources must be documented, and papers are to be the result of your own labor.

 

If you require accommodation owing to a disability, immediately contact the Disabilities Resources for Students Office (DRS) in Schmitz Hall 448 (206-548-8924; uwdss@u.washington.edu) or the Disabilities Services Office (DSO) at dso@u.washington.edu. It is your responsibility to notify me in writing and in advance of any accommodations to be arranged by either the DSO or DRS office and—should forms be involved—to deliver those to me in person during office hours, with time enough to allow for us to arrive at a mutual understanding of the means by which those accommodations are best met.

Course Requirements

 

  1. Complete the reading by the day we begin discussion.

 

  1. On a related note, informed contribution to class discussion is part of the course grade. You must be present to achieve this. Depending on my sense of class engagement, in-class quizzes may be given. Quizzes may not be taken belatedly without medical documentation regarding an absence. N.B.: If you miss class, do not email me to explain why; contact a class member to catch up.

 

  1. Written Work. Style matters in this as in all things. All written work must be stapled and typed, with numbered pages and one-inch margins; employ a standard 12-point font, standard paragraphing and standard spacing, not the default spacing that Word or Pages may supply, which insert spaces between paragraphs. Proofread. See “Marginal Comments” under “Files” in the Canvas website for this class. If you hand in pieces of paper that aren’t attached to each other, you are responsible for any issues that arise as a result of your aleatory approach.

 

  1. A) Response Papers. Being a good reader means being an active reader. The intellectual purpose of the response papers is to transform you into a more active reader: they should (a) start you thinking critically (as a critic, not simply a nay-sayer) and in a focused manner about the material; and to give me a chance to register your impressions and adjust our discussions accordingly.

            On the days indicated you will turn in a single-spaced, substantive one-page response paper formulated around a specific question or issue having to do with the text under discussion that day. Your response paper will receive either a check minus, check, or a check plus. Check minuses mean you need to try harder next time (see the comments on where to begin); checks mean you are doing fine; check pluses mean you have moved beyond fine. I tend to be parsimonious with check pluses. A series of checks is a solid performance, and combined with good paper grades mean you’re doing quite well.  At the end of the quarter I will assess your performance on and trajectory of the response papers over the arc of the course as a whole.            

 

  • You may formulate your response papers as a question, one which you begin to consider how to answer, or explain why the question emerges as an important one. In addition to being focused, the question you engage should not be answered readily by a simple yes or no. The second step will be to ask a question that can be readily pursued by a page of your writing. Avoid questions like “What is the author's intention in using X?"; "What is the deeper meaning of Y?": they’re too big. (Our class also has an embargo upon the phrase “deeper meaning.”) Indeed, you are relieved of the burden of answering the question definitively—but you should begin to answer the question intelligently. Think concretely, and stay focused on what the text tells you, not what your impressions are at a general level. If you take a second thing from this class, it should be understanding in your gut/brain that specificity matters. Regard it as a mini-paper, but one for which you do not need a thesis.
  • Do not use first person. Avoid reference to “the reader.” This will force you to focus on the text. (“I love how X happens” will become “X is an important issue because [some reason more specific than your love for it: the way it mattered to the text, the way it was reversed later, etc.].”)
  • Go in fear of the intentional fallacy. I also strongly urge you to avoid a-historical association (the color pink used to be associated with boys; and blue with girls).
  • Use quotations from the text, cited parenthetically with page number, like “this” (42), to reference or explain your question, and your answer or tentative answers to it; or to explain why the question is an important one. The point is to keep you "close" to the text; don't speculate or engage in generalizations. Occasionally you may be asked to verbally present your response paper to the class.
  • I may announce specific directions for the next response paper. If you turn in a response paper that does not respond to that announcement, it will count as a zero.
  • Response papers may not be turned in handwritten, late, or early. If you miss the class, your response paper will not be accepted.

 

  1. B) Papers. Late papers are graded as such. If very late, they may not be accepted. You will receive further details before each due date, but can anticipate:

            Paper #1: 4 pages. Close reading of a single paragraph.

Paper #2: More than that, page-wise and probably text-wise.

                       

  1. GRADING: Paper #1: 30%; Paper #2: 40%; Participation and response papers: 30%

 

Marginal Comments: The Lexicon

I write comments on papers so you can improve. The overwhelming majority of the students who actively contemplate my comments report a marked improvement in their writing. You may find in the margins standard editorial abbreviations indicating errors and problems. Making the same mistakes repeatedly over the course of the quarter will weigh increasingly heavily against the grade. See Canvas, “Files” for this list of common student errors and the abbreviations used.

Do not plagiarize. Plagiarism includes lifting material from the web, collusion, and the use of sources without citation. If you have any questions regarding what constitutes plagiarism, consult me. All sources must be documented, and papers are to be the result of your own labor.

If you require accommodation owing to a disability, immediately contact the Disabilities Resources for Students Office (DRS) in Schmitz Hall 448 (206-548-8924; uwdss@u.washington.edu) or the Disabilities Services Office (DSO) at dso@u.washington.edu. It is your responsibility to notify me in writing and in advance of any accommodations to be arranged by either the DSO or DRS office and—should forms be involved—to deliver those to me in person during office hours, with time enough to allow for us to arrive at a mutual understanding of the means by which those accommodations are best met.

 

This syllabus is subject to change. You are responsible for keeping up with any modifications to our schedule or assignments.

 

Catalog Description: 
Explores the novel in English from the first half of the twentieth century. May include such writers as Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Gertrude Stein, E.M. Forster, Claude McKay, Elizabeth Bowen, Raja Rao, William Faulkner, Jean Rhys, and Edith Wharton. Includes history and changing aesthetics of the novel as form, alongside the sociohistorical context.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Credits: 
5.0
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 8, 2019 - 11:10pm