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Topics In Literature and Society

ENGL 293.601
instructor(s):
TR 5:30-6:45

This course is an introduction to the study of literature. Our goal is to follow thematic trajectories through and across various geographic, chronological, and genealogical boundaries so that we arrive at a continuum upon which much of literature may be regarded thematically. Concepts such as Utopia, sanity, freedom, genocide, and most human biases are all strands woven throughout the literature presented in the syllabus. We will evaluate the use of various literary techniques including autobiography, allegory, the graphic novel, and epic poetry. At the end of the course students will have a well-rounded understanding of the vast repertoire that is modern literature.

Requirements:
Most novels will be read within one week. Students are expected to draft questions for class discussions for each text. For many of the texts, students will be required to write a two page reflective response to some aspect of the narrative. Surprise quizzes are always a possibility and there will be a final 5-7 page research paper that uses two or more of the texts to explore a major theme (such as Utopia or oppression) defined within our course of study.

Attendance is mandatory. Each student is allowed three unexcused absences. The fourth absence will affect grades negatively. All work must be turned in on time (no extensions) and each student is expected to participate in discussions during class.

Texts:
Beowulf
Voltaire Candide
Aphra Behn Oroonoko
Harriet Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Fyodor Doystoyevsky Notes from Underground
George Orwell Animal Farm
Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse Five
Art Spiegalman Maus I and II
Ben Okri The Famished Road
Dorothy Allison Bastard out of Carolina
Toni Morrison Paradise