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Narrative and Social Change

ENGL 100.401
MWF 11

This course is an introduction to the basic tools and disciplinary assumptions English studies. In it we will focus on narrative. Narrative theory studies much more than just the novel or even prose fiction, seeking instead to understand all forms of narrative, including historical, scientific, and philosophical writing. Narrative in this course will be understood as the stories that individuals constantly tell themselves as a way to understand their world. The axis of contention is the course will be how narrative is in communion with social change, broadly defined. How does the desire for social change warp the rules of the narratives that we tell? How do marginal groups construct an audience in such a way that the latter finds a place within the narrative produced by that marginal community? What is the relationship of narrative to truth? To morals? To ethics? We will read some theoretical work relating to the production and reception of narrative. Some of the writers we might engage are: Cliff, Marshall, Baraka, Dove, Coetzee, Achebe, Lovelace, Eliot, Balzac, Wharton. There will be two papers, a midterm and a final exam.