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J. M. Coetzee: Fiction, History, Theory

ENGL 775.401
also offered as: AFST 775
Wednesdays 3-6:00 pm


In this course we will consider the major works of the South African novelist and Nobel Prize-winner, J. M. Coetzee, as well as the literary, theoretical, and political issues they raise. The reading list will include normal">Dusklands, In the Heart of the Country, Waiting for the Barbarians, Life and Times of Michael K, Foe, normal">Age of Iron, The Master of Petersburg, Disgrace, the memoirs (Boyhood, normal">Youth, and Summertime), and Diary of a Bad Year.  We will also study Coetzee’s wide-ranging academic writing, which addresses issues like colonial discourse, confession, censorship, the ideology of apartheid, madness, authorship and authority, animal rights, translation, the nature of the “classic,” etc. We will examine Coetzee’s complex, elusive, and critical relationship to South African literature and history, as well as his significance in the broader international context: his relationship to writers like Defoe, Kafka, Beckett, Nabakov, Dostoyevsky, and more generally, to realism, modernism, postmodernism, and postcolonialism. The Coetzee seminar, in short, should be of interest to graduate students with a wide range of specialities. Modernists, comparatists, theorists, postcolonialists, feminists, and specialists in the history of the novel are all equally welcome. Requirements: an oral presentation on an assigned topic, a final essay on a topic of the student’s own choosing, plus a short informal essay on the experience of engaging with Coetzee’s oeuvre (along the lines of Hedley Twidle’s “Getting Over Coetzee,” Imraan Coovadia’s “Coetzee in and Out of Cape Town, and my own “Why Not to Teach Coetzee.”)

fulfills requirements
Sector 3: Early Literature to 1660 of the Standard Major
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major