Paradise0039

English/Religion 196 – Satan in Literature and Culture

Introduction – The Devil…. Lucifer…. Satan. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist. We’ll look for his hoof-prints throughout four centuries of western history, finding him in places as varied as Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus to William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. Through it all we’ll focus on the cultural, religious, and literary implications of one of history’s most fascinating characters, hoping to answer the question of why the Devil always gets the best lines.

Note: As an upper level literature class it is assumed that all students have familiarity with evaluating the relevance and credibility of secondary sources and integrating them into a research project. If you feel that you are unfamiliar with what this entails please let me know and I can individually work with you as the semester progresses.

Required Literary Texts

(You will need these books in roughly this order. I have chosen the editions I did for particular reasons, if you are using a different edition please check with me first).

Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World (Cornel University Press) by Jeffrey Burton Russell

Doctor Faustus and Other Plays (Oxford World Classics) by Christopher Marlowe

The Exorcist (Harper) by William Peter Blatty

The Master and Margarita (Vintage) by Mikhail Bulgakov

Eichmann and the Holocaust (Penguin) by Hannah Arendt

The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. (University of Chicago Press0 by George Steiner

Required Cinematic Texts

(You will be required to watch assigned films by the class we will be discussing them. It is the students’ responsibility to locate films themselves. Most will be available on NetFlix, YouTube, or Amazon Prime. Depending on interest it is possible that I will schedule screenings outside of class).

Schedule of readings and assignments

All readings and assignments due on the date that is indicated

(Note: This is a tentative schedule, and it is subject to change).

Tuesday January 26th – Introduction to course, and discussion on “Who is Satan?”

Unit One: Satanic Origins

Thursday January 28th – Read chapter 1 of Jeffrey Burton Russell’s Mephistopheles, discussion of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone episode “The Howling Man.” STUDENT PRESENTATIONS WILL BE SCHEDULED TODAY.

Tuesday February 2nd – Read William Blake’s The Book of Job (available on CourseSite) and chapter 2 of Russell’s Mephistopheles.

Thursday February 4th –Read the first two acts of Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, as well as chapter 3 of Jeffrey Burton Russell’s Mephistopheles

Tuesday February 9th –Read the last three acts of Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, and chapter 4 of Jeffrey Burton Russell’s Mephistopheles.

Thursday February 11th – Read Book I of John Milton’s Paradise Lost (available on CourseSite).

Tuesday February 16th – Read Book II of Milton’s Paradise Lost (available on CourseSite).

Thursday February 18th – Read Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Grand Inquisitor as well as Matthew 4:1-4:11 in the King James Translation (both available on Course Site), and watch clips from Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (to be supplied by me).

Tuesday February 23rd – CREATIVE ASSIGNMENT ONE IS DUE TODAY.

Unit Two: Satanic Evil

Thursday February 25th – Read Flannery O’Conner’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” (available on CourseSite) and chapters 5 of Russell’s Mephistopheles.

Tuesday March 1st – Read “The Beginning” in William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and chapter 6 of Jeffrey Burton Russell’s Mephistopheles.

Thursday March 3rd – Read “The Edge” in Blatty’s The Exorcist.

Tuesday March 8th – Read “The Abyss” in Blatty’s The Exorcist.

Thursday March 10th – Read “And Let My Cry Come Unto Thee” in Blatty’s The Exorcist and watch William Friedkin’s film adaptation. CREATIVE ASSIGNMENT TWO IS DUE TODAY.

Tuesday March 15th – NO CLASS: SPRING BREAK

Thursday March 17th – NO CLASS: SPRING BREAK

Unit Three: Satanic Trickster

Tuesday March 22nd – Read Stephen Vincent Benet’s “The Devil and Daniel Webster” (available on CourseSite).

Thursday March 24th – Read chapters 1-9 of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita and watch Kevin Smith’s Dogma.

Tuesday March 29th – Read chapters 10-18 of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.

Thursday March 31st – Read chapters 19-25 of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.

Tuesday April 5th – Read chapter 26 to conclusion of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.

Thursday April 7th – Read T.C. Boyles’ “Stones in my Passway, Hellhound on My Trail” (available on CourseSite) and listen to a selection of music (links will be supplied on CourseSite) by Robert Johnson and the Rolling Stones.

Tuesday April 12th – TEACHER CONFERENCES – RESEARCH PAPER PROPOSAL DUE.

Unit Four: Satanic Metaphor

Thursday April 14th – Read chapters 7-8 of Russell’s Mephistopheles.

Tuesday April 19th – Read all of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann and the Holocaust. RESEARCH PAPER ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY DUE TODAY.

Thursday April 21st – Read “The Last Demon” by I.B. Singer (available on CourseSite).

Tuesday April 26th – Read chapters 1-7 of George Steiner’s The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H.

Thursday April 28th – Read chapter 8-11 of George Steiner’s The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H.

Tuesday May 3rd – Read from chapter 12 to the conclusion in George Steiner’s The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H.

Thursday May 5th – Conclusion of class.

Friday May 6th – RESEARCH PAPER DUE TODAY.

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Everyone is a Critic

Introduction – Sometimes it seems like everyone is a critic. Movies, music, food, sports, television, we all have our opinions on what we like and don’t like. But how can we express our reasons for why we enjoy what we enjoy? How can we incorporate arguments to explain why we think a particular film encapsulates an era, that an album is the most representative of its genre, or that a book expresses certain experiences in a particularly profound way? It may be true that everyone has an opinion, but not everybody has a reason. In this class we’ll use the rhetorical, argumentative, and critical skills of practical literary scholarship to better hone our ability to talk and write intelligently about the culture that is important to us.

Required Literary Texts

(You will need these books in roughly this order. I have chosen the editions I did for particular reasons, if you are using a different edition please check with me first).

Short Guide to Writing about Film (Longman) by Timmothy Corrigan

How to Write about Music: Excerpts from the 33 1/3 Series, Magazine, Books and Blogs with Advice from Industry-Leading Writers (Bloomsbury) by Marc Woodworth and Ally-Jane Grossan

Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution, from the Sopranos and Mad Men to the Wire and Breaking Bad (Penguin) by Brett Martin

On Boxing (Harper Perenial) by Joyce Carol Oates  

Required Cinematic Texts

(You will be required to watch assigned films by the class we will be discussing them. It is the students’ responsibility to locate films themselves. Most will be available on NetFlix, YouTube, or Amazon Prime. Depending on interest it is possible that I will schedule screenings outside of class).

High Fidelity, Almost Famous, Life Itself, Bull Durham

Schedule of readings and assignments

All readings and assignments due on the date that is indicated

(Note: This is a tentative schedule, and it is subject to change).

Tuesday January 26th – Introduction to the class, watching clip from Stephen Frears’ High Fidelity.

Unit One: Movies

Thursday January 28th – Read chapters 1of Short Guide to Writing about Film. Discussion on the ranking of films, and construction of “Top Five” lists.

Tuesday February 2nd – Read chapter 2 of Short Guide to Writing about Film. We will be viewing An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge to begin discussing how we review the elements of film.

Thursday February 4th – Read chapter 3 of Short Guide to Writing about Film.

Tuesday February 9th – Read chapter 4 of Short Guide to Writing about Film.

Thursday February 11th – Read chapter 5 of Short Guide to Writing about Film.

Tuesday February 16th – NO CLASS: REQUIRED STUDENT CONFERENCES WITH ME. Read chapter 6 of Short Guide to Writing about Film.

Thursday February 18th – Viewing of Steve James’ Life Itself.

Unit Two: Music

Tuesday February 23rd – Read chapter 1 and chapter 3 of How to Write about Music, as well as watch Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. Class discussion and activities on writing about whole albums.

Thursday February 25th – Read chapter 4 of How to Write about Music. Class discussion and activities will focus on video recordings of live music. FIRST PAPER DUE TODAY.

Tuesday March 1st – Read chapter 5 of How to Write about Music.

Thursday March 3rd – Read chapter 6 of How to Write about Music. Class discussion and activities about personal memoir and music criticism.

Tuesday March 8th – Read chapters 7 and 9 of How to Write about Music as well as “Desert Islands Disks.” Class discussion and activities about personal memoir and music criticism.

Thursday March 10th – Read chapter 10 of How to Write about Music

Tuesday March 15th – NO CLASS: SPRING BREAK

Thursday March 17th – NO CLASS: SPRING BREAK

Tuesday March 22nd – Read chapter 11 of How to Write about Music.

Thursday March 24th – Read chapter 12 of How to Write about Music. PEER REVIEW DAY – All students must bring at least two printed copies of their second paper.

Unit Three: Television

Tuesday March 29th – Read “Part One” of Brett Martin’s Difficult Men. SECOND PAPER DUE TODAY.

Thursday March 31st – Discussion of The Sopranos.

Tuesday April 5th – Read “Part Two” of Brett Martin’s Difficult Men.

Thursday April 7th – Discussion of The Wire.

Tuesday April 12th – Read “Part Three” and conclusion of Brett Martin’s Difficult Men.

Thursday April 14th – Discussion of MadMen

Tuesday April 19th – Peer Review Day – Students must bring at least two printed out copies of their third paper.

Thursday April 21st – Discussion of Breaking Bad. THIRD PAPER DUE TODAY.

Unit Four: Sports

Tuesday April 26th – Read A. Bartlett Giamatti’s “Greenfields of the Mind” (available on CourseSite) and chapters 1-2 of Joyce Carol Oates’ On Boxing.

Thursday April 28th – Read chapters 3-5 of Joyce Carol Oates’ On Boxing and the introduction to Roy Blounts’ About Three Bricks Shy: And the Load Filled Up.

Tuesday May 3rd – Read chapters 6-7 of Joyce Carol Oates’ On Boxing and a collection of short essays from The Best of Frank Deford (to be supplied on CourseSite).

Thursday May 5th – Conclusion of class and course evaluation.

Friday May 6th – FOURTH PAPER DUE TODAY.

 

7deadly

Introduction to Literature: The Seven Deadly Sins – Fall, 2015

Introduction – What is “sin,” and why does it still seem to have such a hold on the modern imagination? With its connotations of transgression, violation, decadence, and even evil, sin has been a central literary concept in writing both religious and secular. The Seven Deadly Sins were listed in the early middle ages and would become a central theme in works by authors like Aquinas, Dante, and Milton. Yet even today we see the sins as an important theme in novels, film, and essay. This course will examine the ways in which sin has been historically depicted across writings both canonical and classical, as well as current and contemporary. As an introduction to literature we will be using the language of sin as our critical vocabulary, examining how authors have used this concept in building character, structuring narrative, and constructing phrases. This is first and foremost a course that is an introduction to literature and to writing, and not a religious studies or theology course. As such, while we will inevitably discuss those subjects, our central task is to investigate what it means to think in a literary way and how to improve your writing. What does it mean to “think in a literary way?” As a subset of critical thinking, literary thinking allows us to explore texts with an eye to historical and cultural contexts, through specific rhetorical maneuvers, and by investigating the ways in which narrative logic work to construct particular interpretative meanings.

Texts

(You will need these books in roughly this order. I have chosen the editions I did for particular reasons, if you are using a different edition please check with me first).

Sin and Syntax: Crafting Wickedly Good Prose (Three Rivers Press) by Constance Hale

Doctor Faustus and Other Plays (Oxford World Classics) by Christopher Marlowe

Fight Club (W.W. Norton) by Chuck Palahniuk

Othello (Pelican Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare

The Virgin Suicides (Picador) by Jeffrey Eugenides

Bartleby the Scrivener (Melville House) by Herman Melville

Schedule of readings and assignments

All readings and assignments due on the date that is indicated

(Note: This is a tentative schedule, and it is subject to change).

Tuesday August 25th – Introduction to course.

Thursday August 27th – Discussion on what sin is, and how we define each one. Read introduction to James Boyce’s Born Bad: Original Sin and the Making of the Western World as well as well as the introduction to Lawrence Cunningham’s The Seven Deadly Sins: A Visitors Guide – Optional showing of David Fincher’s Se7en (1995) at 5PM in Drown 220. Students unable to make the viewing must watch film on their own, and write a 300 word response due by Monday at Noon.

Tuesday September 1st – Read Act I of Dr. Faustus and “Enduring Pride” by Eric Michael Dyson

Thursday September 3rd – Read Act II of Dr. Faustus. Read “Introduction” and “Nouns” from Sin and Syntax (ix-34).

Tuesday September 8th – NO CLASS – MANDATORY STUDENT CONFERENCES WITH ME. Read Act III of Dr. Faustus.

Thursday September 10th – Read Act IV of Dr. Faustus and David Riggs’ “Introduction” from The World of Christopher Marlowe, available on CourseSite.

Tuesday September 15th – Read Act V of Dr. Faustus Flannery O’Connor’s “Revelation” (available on CourseSite).

Thursday September 17th – Read Robert Thurman’s introduction to Anger and chapter 1-6 of Fight Club.

Tuesday September 22nd – Read chapters 7-17 of Fight Club and “Pronouns” (35-59) from Sin and Syntax. “Students unable to make the viewing must watch film on their own, and write a 300 word response due by Monday at Noon.

Thursday September 24th – Read chapters 18-23 of Fight Club and “Verbs” (60-80) from Sin and Syntax.

Tuesday September 29th – Read chapters 24-30 of Fight Club and “Adjectives” (81-95) from Sin and Syntax.

Thursday October 1st – In-class writing workshop/peer review. All students must come with at least two copies of their first paper rough draft.

FIRST PAPER DUE – Monday October 5th (By Noon).

Tuesday October 6th – Read Act I of Othello and Marjorie Garber essay from Shakespeare After All (588-616) available on CourseSite. Optional viewing of Sam Mendes The Talented Mr. Ripply at 5PM in Drown 220, students who are unable to attend must write a 300 word response to the film and turn it in by Noon the next day.

Thursday October 8th – Read Act II of Othello and “Not Jealousy” (1-9) from Envy by Joseph Epstein.

Tuesday October 13st – NO CLASS – PACING BREAK

Thursday October 15th – Read Acts III and IV of Othello and “Adverbs” (96-105) in Sin and Syntax.

Tuesday October 20th – Read Act V of Othello and Marjorie Garber’s “Othello: The Persistence of Difference” (154-177) available on CourseSite. Optional showing of Milos Forman’s Amadeus (1984) at 5PM in Drown 220, students who are unable to attend must write a 300 word response to the film and turn it in by Noon the next day.

Thursday October 22nd – Read Phyllis A Tickle’s “Prologue: Being a Bit of Context” from Greed and the “Introduction” to Jordon Bellfort’s The Wolf of Wall Street as well as Phillip Pullman’s translation of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm’s “The Fisherman and his Wife,” all available on CourseSite.

Tuesday October 27th – NO CLASS – MANDATORY STUDENT CONFERENCES WITH ME

Thursday October 29th – In-class writing workshop/peer review. All students must come with at least two copies of their second paper rough draft, and read “Prepositions” (106-122) in Sin and Syntax.

Monday November 2nd – SECOND PAPER DUE (By Noon).

Tuesday November 3rd –Read first chapter of Virgin Suicides and “Conjunctions” (123-136) in Sin and Syntax.

Thursday November 5th – Read second chapter of Virgin Suicides Read Introduction and “Desire” from Simon Blackburn’s Lust.

Tuesday November 10th – Read third and fourth chapter of Virgin Suicides and “Interjections” in Sin and Syntax.

Thursday November 12th – Read fifth chapter of Virgin Suicides, In-class writing workshop/peer review. All students must come with at least two copies of their second paper rough draft.

Tuesday November 17th– Read all of Bartleby the Scrivener and Wendy Wasserstein’s “Introduction” from Sloth.

Thursday November 19th – Read Francine Prose’s “Introduction from Gluttony and “Prologue,” “Criadillas: Brussels vs. the Bull’s Balls,” and “Epilogue” from The Devil’s Picnic: Travels through the Underworld of Food and Drink by Taras Grescoe.

Tuesday November 24th – In-class viewing of Barry Rothbart and Jeff Cerulli’s Hungry.

Thursday November 26th – THANKSGIVING – NO CLASS

Tuesday December 1st – In-class writing workshop/peer review. All students must come with at least two copies of their third paper rough draft.

Thursday Decmber 3rd – THIRD PAPER DUE, last day of class, reflections, discussion and class evaluation.

Friday December 13th – FOURTH PAPER DUE.

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Important Stuff: War, Love, Death, and Everything Else – Spring 2014

“We are such stuff / As dreams are made on; and our little life,/Is rounded with a sleep.”

  • William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Introduction: The word “rhetoric” often has a negative connotation. People often associate it with duplicity and sophistry, with conmen and charlatans. And yet rhetoric – the art and science of being able to communicate well – is the very medium in which culture operates. Abraham Lincoln’s commemoration of the soldiers at Gettysburg, Emily Dickinson’s addressing personified Death, and the dialogue of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet are not just examples of poetry but also of rhetoric. In this class we will work to both analyze what operates well in examples of great rhetoric and also how to improve our own writing. We will consider important works of classical and contemporary literature and we will respond to them. In the spirit of the previous examples we will be analyzing writing about what I’ve termed “the important stuff,” that is war, love, death, and everything else. This is not necessarily a value judgment on what’s important to write about, but one could argue that such heightened topics lend themselves to a particular intensity of composition. Finally, the ultimate purpose of this course is to help you improve your writing, to be able to better communicate your own “important stuff.” There are only two full-proof ways this has ever been done, through continually writing and through reading, reciprocal acts that cannot be separated. In this class we will be doing both.

Texts

World Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama by Same Leith

The Vintage Book of War Fiction: From Erich Maria Remarque and Ernest Hemingway to Pat Barker and Tim O’Brien edited by Sebastian Faulks

My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead: Great Love Stories from Checkhov to Munro edited by Jeffrey Eugenides

death poems edited by Russ Kick

Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt (Recommended, not required)

Note: We will not be reading any of these books in their entirety, though there may be assignment prompts based on readings from these books which you have not done.

Schedule of readings and assignments

All readings and assignments due on the date that is indicated

(Note: This is a tentative schedule, and it is subject to change).

Unit One: War

Tuesday January 14th – Introduction to course.

Thursday January 15th –Read from Words like Loaded Pistols (pp. 1- 71), also take a moment to browse the glossary in the back of the book.

Tuesday January 21st – Read from (to be supplied by me) Chris Hedges’ War is a Force that Gives us Meaning (1-61) and Tim O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story” in The Vintage Book of War Fiction (306-320).

Thursday January 23rd – Read Elizabeth Bowen’s “Everybody in London was in Love” (150-156), KurtVonnegut’s “A Nazi City Mourned at Some Profit” (289-291) and Martin Booth’s “Hiroshima Joe” (230-240) all in The Vintage Book of War Fiction.

Tuesday January 28th – Read John Horn Burns’ “My Heart Finally Broke in Naples” (270-282) in The Vintage Book of War Fiction and from (to be supplied by me) Chris Hedges’ War is a Force that Gives us Meaning (62-82). FIRST TEST

Thursday January 30th – Read Willfred Owen’s “Anthem for Doomed Youth” (172) and “Dulce et Decorum Est” (172-3) and Agi Mishol’s “Woman Martyr” (197-8) all from death poems as well as Brian Turner’s “Here, Bullet” and Martin Espada’s “Alabanza – In Praise of Local 100” (both to be supplied by me).

Tuesday February 4th – No class: pre-scheduled mandatory conferences with me.

Wednesday February 5th – Showing of Terrence Mallick’s The Thin Red Line (1998) at 7PM in Drown. Note: You have the option to watch the film on your own, but you must watch the film before the next class.

Thursday February 6th – Read James Jones’ “No Choice” from The Vintage Book of War Fiction (205-218) and watch Terrence Mallick’s The Thin Red Line (1998).

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 7h – FIRST PAPER DUE IN MY MAILBOX BY NOON

Unit Two: Love

Tuesday February 11th – Read from Words Like Loaded Pistols (81-104).

Thursday February 13th – Read “Vortices of Love” (1-39) in Ilan Stavans and Veronica Albin’s Love and Language to be supplied by me.

Tuesday February 18th – Read Jeffrey Eugenides’ “Introduction” (ix-xviii) and John Cheever’s “What we Talk About When We Talk About Love” (489-501) in My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead.

Thursday February 20st – SECOND TEST. Read Dennis Johnson’s “Dirty Wedding” (104-110) and Gilbert Sorrentino’s “The Moon in Flight” both in My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead.

Tuesday February 25th – Read Lorrie Moore’s “How to be the Other Woman” (251-268) and William Trevor’s “Lovers of their Time” (189-209) in My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead.

Thursday February 27th – Read William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” (52-61) and Bernard Malamud’s “The Magic Barrel” (471-488) in My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead.

Tuesday March 4th – NO CLASS: SPRING BREAK

Thursday March 6th – NO CLASS: SPRING BREAK

Tuesday March 11th – Read “Love and Poetry” (82-119) in Ilan Stavans’ and Veronica Albin’s Love and Language (to be supplied by me) along with William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 66” (124-5), Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee” (126-7), John Donne’s “The Relique” (129), and Rita Mae Reese’s“You Bring out the Dead in Me” (144) all in death poems. This selection is liable to change.

Wednesday March 12th – Showing of Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (2005) at 7PM in Drown. Note: You have the option to watch the film on your own, but you must watch the film before the next class.

Thursday March 13th – Watch Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (2005) and read Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” (202), “Elegy” by Chidiock Tickborne (217), “Of Him I Love Day and Night” (244-5) by Walt Whitman, Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” (288-9), and Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” (292) all in death poems.

FRIDAY MARCH 14th – SECOND PAPER DUE IN MY MAILBOX BY NOON

Unit Three: Death

Tuesday March 18th – Read from Words Like Loaded Pistols (119-146).

Thursday March 20st – Read Diane Ackerman’s “Silence and Awakening” (121-131) and Christopher Sorrentino’s “Death in the Age of Digital Proliferation, and Other Considerations” (155-169) from The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death (to be supplied by me).

Tuesday March 25th – A selection of poetry from death poems (to be announced beforehand by me) as well as well as a selection from Robert Pinsky’s The Sounds of Poetry (3-78) to be supplied by me.

Thursday March 27th – Read Kyoko Mori’s “”Between the Forest and the Well: Notes on Death” (33-49) and Annie Dillard’s “This is the Life” (324-328) from The Inevitable to be supplied by me. THIRD TEST

Tuesday April 1st – A selection of all Emily Dickinson poems from death poems as well as a selection from Susan Howe’s My Emily Dickinson to be supplied by me.

Thursday April 3rd – Selections from Simon Critchley’s The Book of Dead Philosophers to be supplied by me.

Tuesday April 8th – A selection of poetry from death poems as well as a viewing of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone episode Nothing in the Dark (1962) and an essay from Lapham’s Quarterly (link to be supplied by me).

MONDAY APRIL 9th – THIRD PAPER DUE IN MY MAILBOX BY NOON

Unit Four: Everything Else

Thursday April 10th – Read from Words Like Loaded Pistols (147-190).

Tuesday April 15th – Read from Words Like Loaded Pistols (191-280).

Thursday April 17th – Why does stuff exist? FOURTH TEST

Tuesday April 22nd –Read from Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist? (1-35) and (243-280).

Thursday April 24th – Wrap up of class.

FRIDAY APRIL 25th – FOURTH PAPER DUE IN MY MAILBOX BY NOON

 

 

 

 

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Envisioning Alternate Worlds – Spring 2013

 “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”

-Jorge Luis Borges

Introduction: The ancient Greeks called humans the “talking animal,” but in many respects it could be just as accurate to call us the “writing animal.” Paradoxically no activity is simultaneously so abstract and so concrete. On the one hand language is necessary for the practical business of everyday life, yet the very same set of words can also be used to create fictional alternate worlds that are radically different from our experience. Indeed the division between what is fictional and what is not is porous precisely because we use the same words in the creation of both. Humanity is seemingly unique in our ability to imagine hypothetical situations and language is the medium through which this is expressed. In many ways all writing expresses a possible alternate world. In this class we will examine the ways in which people have constructed alternate worlds through language and we will discuss their reasons for doing. The purpose of this course is to help you improve your own construction of your possible worlds that is to improve your writing. There are only two full-proof ways this has ever been done, through continually writing and through reading, reciprocal acts that can not be separated. In this class we will be doing both.

Texts

Arcadia by Lauren Groff

After the Apocalypse: Stories by Maureen F. McHugh

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

All Shall be Well, and All Shall be Well, and All Manner of Things Shall be Well by Tod Wodicka

Schedule of readings and assignments

All readings and assignments due on the date that is indicated

(Note: This is a tentative schedule, and it is subject to change).

Tuesday January 15th – Introduction to class, course expectations.

Thursday January 17th – Read Alberto Manguel’s Notes Toward a Definition of the Ideal Reader, Notes Toward the a Definition of the Ideal Library, and The End of Reading (to be supplied by me).

Unit One: Utopia – Envisioning A More Perfect World

Tuesday January 22nd –Read from Lauren Groff’s Arcadia (1-55).

Thursday January 24th – Read “A Joke” from J.C. Hallman’s In Utopia: Six Kinds of Eden and the Search for a Better Paradise to be supplied by the instructor as well as from Arcadia (56-81).

Tuesday January 29thArcadia (82-165).

Thursday January 31stArcadia (166-218).

Tuesday February 5thArcadia (219-289).

Thursday February 7th – Mandatory paper conferences with me.

Tuesday February 12th – Begin viewing of Robert Edwards’ film Land of the Blind (2006).

Thursday February 14th – Finish viewing of film, peer review of paper drafts.

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 15th – FIRST PAPER DUE IN MY MAILBOX BY NOON

Unit Two: Alternate History – Envisioning a World that Never Happened

Tuesday February 19th – Read from Phillip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1-44).

Thursday February 21st – Read “Introduction” from Gavriel Rosenfeld’s The World Hitler Never Made: Alternate History and the Memory of Nazism to be supplied by me.

Tuesday February 26thThe Man in the High Castle (45-118).

Thursday February 28thThe Man in the High Castle (119-167) Begin viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009).

Tuesday March 5thThe Man in the High Castle (168-220), continue watching of movie.

Thursday March 7thThe Man in the High Castle (221-259).

Tuesday March 12th – NO CLASS: SPRING BREAK

Thursday March 14th – NO CLASS: SPRING BREAK

MONDAY MARCH 18th – SECOND PAPER DUE IN MY MAILBOX BY NOON

Unit Three: Post-Apocalypse – Envisioning the World Not Existing

Tuesday March 19th – Read from Maureen F. McHugh’s After the Apocalypse (1-86).

Thursday March 21st – Read “The End of the World?” from Matthew Barrett Gross and Mel Gilles’ The Last Myth: What the Rise of Apocalyptic Thinking Tells Us About America (to be supplied by me).

Tuesday March 26thAfter the Apocalypse (87-120).

Thursday March 28thAfter the Apocalypse (121-146).

Tuesday April 2ndAfter the Apocalypse (147-end). Begin watching John Hillcoat’s The Road (2009).

Thursday April 4th – Finish the film.

FRIDAY APRIL 5th – THIRD PAPER DUE IN MY MAILBOX BY NOON

Unit Four: Reenacting History – Envisioning a Past in the Present and Vice Versa

Tuesday April 9th – Read from Tod Wodicka’s All Shall be Well; and All Shall be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall be Well (1-59).

Thursday April 11th – Read from All Shall be Well (60-112) and Sarah Vowel’s “God Will Give You Blood to Drink in a Souvenir Shot Glass” (to be supplied by me).

Tuesday April 16th – Read from All Shall be Well (113-190).

Thursday April 18th – Read from All Shall be Well (191-223) and showing of Colin Trevorrow’s Safety Not Guaranteed (2012).

Tuesday April 23rd – Read from All Shall be Well (224-264) and completion of movie.

Thursday April 25th – Wrapping things up.

FRIDAY APRIL 26th – FOURTH PAPER DUE IN MY MAILBOX BY NOON