Fall Syllabi

April 20, 2007 at 2:28 pm 9 comments

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This post is actually not going to be concerned with internationalism and the failure of working class solidarity. The hysteria about foreign born workers eerily re-creates (this time as farce?) the early 20th century anti-immigrant xenophobia. If workers somehow could learn to seize the reigns of a globalized world, they wouldn’t have to fight each other for peanuts or borders.

This fall I’ll be teaching Elizabeth Ammons’ American realisms syllabus in an “Introduction to American Literature and Culture” class. I’ve written about this syllabus, here.

I’m also going to be teaching the ambiguously titled “Introduction to Literature.” I want the class to ask why we need a particular monster at a particular moment. Here are the texts we’ll be reading:

1.) Johann Wolfgang von GoetheFaust

2.) Mary Wollstonecraft ShelleyFrankenstein

3.) Emily BronteWuthering Heights

4.) Bram StokerDracula

5.) Stephen Crane – “The Monster”

6.) Frank NorrisMcTeague

7.) Richard WrightNative Son

8.) Vladimir NabokovLolita

9.) Truman CapoteIn Cold Blood

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Entry filed under: teaching.

To Houston! Well-wishes

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cerebraljetsam  |  April 20, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    hey, you’re back. i just got back home from the michale hardt lecture. a funny, funny man. two memorable events: 1) hardt arguing for the importance of revolutionary force, maybe even violence (however, not the kind we have known thus far, which has proven, well ineffective and stupid) and 2) walter benn michaels outmarxing hardt. im am not kidding. hardt had to laugh himself and suggested that his mother might for once be happy that someone considers him not marxist and anti-capitalist enough. seriousy. i am not kidding (i can imagine your face and disbelief as you are reading this).

    your syllabus looks very nice and quite ambitious. your students will have to get used to some serious reading, which is a good thing. some of the novels are quite substantial. isn’t _native son_, depending on the edition, not also somewhere between 400 and 500 pages?

    hope you had fun in houston!

  • 2. cerebraljetsam  |  April 20, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    sorry for the terrible writing. just finished an article today and have consequently not slept a lot and am also quite fed up with writing for at least today. might go see _hot fuzz_ as a way of relaxing my brain. =)

  • 3. skunkcabbage  |  April 20, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    :-O !!!!
    Michaels out-marxing Hardt… I’m trying to get my jaw off the floor. Would have liked to have seen that one. I’m getting Walter some red woolies for May Day.

    Native Son is a fairly sizable read, though the latest Harper Perennial (2005) edition looks thinner than the brick they used to publish. Maybe it’s not teaching this semester, but I’m feeling awfully ambitious about getting back into the brick-walled quadragon.

    Good luck with the fuzz, may it live up to Shaun of the Dead.

  • 4. whetted  |  April 21, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Ammons’s syllabus seems really amazing; I’m sure it will be an interesting course to teach, to gauge students’ perceptions of the differences between realism and naturalism. Particularly, I think, with the James. Though Daisy Miller is far from my favorite of his books—I much prefer his second and third phases, as they are so often called—it’s rare to think of that in terms of anything other than its critically labeled “realist fiction.” We did discuss this a short while back, namely with The Princess Casamassima as James’s own blatant attempt at naturalism (which was also a term conflated with realism in his day), so I think Daisy Miller would prove really interesting in the realism/naturalism “divide.”

    The syllabus you’re proposing also sounds fantastic and the idea of why society and culture needs a monster figure is, of course, timely and will be one students can surely relate to. Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground might also be a text worth integrating into the selections you already have here. (I agree a bit with cerebral that Native Son might be a bit hefty for an intro course.) At least that’s my own two cents. πŸ™‚

  • 5. skunkcabbage  |  April 22, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Thank you very much for the suggestions! πŸ™‚
    I’ll take a look at Notes from Underground. One advantage of planning this far out is there’s plenty of time to shuffle texts. Part of the reason I’m interested in teaching Native Son is because of the way that Wright goes to such lengths to point out how Bigger is socially constructed. It is as you note, a hefty book, and maybe especially so for an intro course. I’ll have to think a bit more about that.

    Sometimes I want to drop everything and just read Henry James. It would be interesting to teach The Portrait of a Lady (New York Edition) and Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth. Arguments for their naturalism can easily be made. Both Lily Bart and Isabelle Archer contend with more or less inexorable cages. I should probably read Daisy Miller before I teach it. πŸ˜‰

  • 6. whetted  |  April 22, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Notes from Underground might be worth looking at in terms of a narrator who actually labels himself a monster. I thought that might make a nice contrast between other texts that present the monster figure to the reader, almost robbing the figure of any subjectivity, et cetera.

    Giving enough time for the syllabus to change is good! I wish I had had enough time for the current course I’m teaching to do the same. I had to shift a few texts I wanted to include and even had some issues getting in a text I really wanted to include (no matter what) as it is out of print. I will be sure that, in the future, should I attempt to be “experimental” in teaching, I’ll leave plenty of room for such pitfalls as I’ve lately encountered!

  • 7. skunkcabbage  |  April 23, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    I’m familiar with out-of-print frustration. Quite unfortunate. What course are you teaching?

    Thanks again for the Notes suggestion. It’s made the “must read soon” list!

    BTW, have you had an opportunity to start Berlin Alexanderplatz?

  • 8. whetted  |  April 23, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    I haven’t had a chance yet as I’ve a week before I go abroad and I’ve about four weeks’ worth of things to get done before then. I do plan on taking it with me, to read on planes, trains, and taxi cabs. πŸ™‚

    I’m not comfortable talking about specific things here that might identify me, and which I may regret later, but if you want to e-mail me, I’d be happy to be more thorough in that realm.

  • 9. skunkcabbage  |  April 24, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Sure, that makes sense.

    Good luck with the preparations for your travels!


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