Our course is an introduction to William Faulkner, one of the major novelists of the twentieth century and, arguably, the premiere American modernist writer. It is an examination of his fiction, with special attention to how, following Pound’s modernist dictum, “Make it new,” Faulkner made the “Old South,” its vexed history and complex legacies, “new” and “modern” in his novels and short stories, and in the process contributed to a distinctly American literary modernism. We will read four of his major novels, The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom!, along with a selection of his short stories and his final comic novel, The Reivers, in our exploration of his constructions of race (including “whiteness”), his innovations in genre, his attention to gender, and his representations of history and culture. Several films made from scripts Faulkner wrote while in Hollywood and a selection of film adaptations of Faulkner’s own novels will be screened.
The format will be primarily lecture with discussion and questions, including small group conversations and commentary.
Two examinations will be required. The first exam is an essay-type midterm, and the second is a combination essay-short answer examination following the completion of the four major novels. One paper will be required; it is a final essay based on coursework and approximately eight pages in length.