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JM Coetzee: From Africa to Australia

ENGL 016.303
instructor(s):
TR 12–1:30
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

J. M. Coetzee has emerged as one of the most important authors writing in English today. This has been confirmed not just by his Nobel prize but by the sense that each new novel is a new departure bringing a new perspective and a sense of style to the topics he treats. This class provides a general introduction to his collected works. We will begin with the South African context and his resistance to Apartheid, tackling issues of colonialism, torture, marginalization, femininity, intertextuality, and violence so as to define Coetzee’s blend of modernism and postmodernism. We will split the corpus into three groups of four novels, in which we will read closely one only (underlined here) while surveying the others. We will begin with the African sequence of Dusklands, In the Heart of the Country, Waiting for the Barbarians, and Life & Times of Michael K. This will be followed by the polyphonic exploration of a broader world, with Foe, Age of IronThe Master of Petersburg and Disgrace. Finally, the last novels will take us to Adelaide or beyond, to a future utopia. With Slow ManDiary of a Bad Year, The Childhood of Jesus and The Schooldays of Jesus, we will assess the change brought about by the displacement to Australia. We will also engage with the question of animals as presented in Elizabeth Costello and take into account the critical dialogue with psychoanalysis of The Good Story.  

Requirements: one film journal (Disgrace) and two papers of 12 pages.