In this class we will focus on narratives--primarily novels and short stories--that are particularly conscious of the related issues of authority and credibility. What does the narrative tell us? What does it fail to tell us? How credible are our sources? What do we look for in a narrator? What makes us suspicious? Most important of all, how do we figure out what questions to ask? As we examine texts that have emerged out of different historical periods and writing communities we will ask, in each case, how the narrative works, what it seeks to accomplish, and what demands it places on us as readers and critics. We will meet a range of authors including Jane Austen, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Harriet Jacobs, Henry James, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, and even Agatha Christie, and we will approach their works with questions about narrative form, movement, perspective, power, evidence, mystery, literacy, history, "voice," and authenticity.
Requirements include active class participation, short reading responses, two papers, and one oral presentation.