Engl 415--The Figure in the Carpet: Authors and Contemporary American Literature
Instructor: Dr. Crystal Alberts
Office: Merrifield 1D
Office Hours: MWF 2:00-3:00 and by appt.
The Ghost Writer (1979), Philip Roth
Mao II (1991), Don DeLillo
Galatea 2.2 (1995), Richard Powers
Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man (2000), Joseph Heller
Erasure (2001), Percival Everett
Agapē Agape (2002), William Gaddis
Super Sad True Love Story (2010), Gary Shteyngart
Short Essay 1 (Undergraduate: 4-6 pages; Graduate: 6-8 pages) 20%
Short Essay 2 (Undergraduate: 4-6 pages; Graduate: 6-8 pages) 20%
Annotated Bibliography/Prospectus 20%
Final Paper (Undergraduate: 10-12 pages; Graduate: 15-20 pages) 30%
Objective of the Course:
In Anatomy of Criticism, Northrop Frye asserts, "[i]t is generally accepted that a critic is a better judge of value of a poem than its creator, but there is still a lingering notion that it is somehow ridiculous to regard the critic as the final judge of its meaning, even though in practice it is clear that he must be." This claim marks a distinct shift in literary criticism, as modern-day scholars studying The Blithedale Romance wouldn’t dare do so without considering Hawthorne’s own explanation of "romance" defined in the preface of The House of the Seven Gables. Likewise, current critics wouldn’t think of commenting on the texts of Henry James without consulting his own remarks, eventually collected in The Art of the Novel. However, it seems that for those studying post-1945 American literature, in layman’s terms, the only good writer is a dead one.
In this class, we will investigate the role of authors in contemporary American literature. In order to do this, we will contemplate Roland Barthes’ declaration of "The Death of the Author," as well as how the "author function[s]" in our society according to Michel Foucault. We will also read recent texts (most of which were published after 1970) that include characters that are writers. Over the course of the semester, we will consider how authors view themselves and their craft. And, we will attempt to discover what they think about being declared "dead" (even when they are still living).
Students in this class will be expected to participate in detailed discussions about the readings, conduct research, and write thoughtful, argumentative essays (including a "seminar" paper at the end of the semester).
This course is an Essential Studies Capstone Course, and fulfills the goals of Thinking and Reasoning.
Completion of Work: PLEASE NOTE, ALL PAPERS AND ASSIGNMENTS FOR THIS COURSE MUST BE COMPLETED AND SUBMITTED ON TIME TO RECEIVE CREDIT.
Attendance, Participation, and Punctuality: Your attendance and participation in class discussion is essential for the success of the class. Please note that 4 or more unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade and that more than 6 unexcused absences constitute grounds for failure of the course. Note that three unexcused tardies is equivalent to an unexcused absence. Also, I will consider a tardiness of more than 20 minutes an absence. If you do miss a class, please see me during my office hours to find out what you missed, including important handouts, changes in the syllabus, etc.
Essay Format: Essays are due at the beginning of the class in which they are due. In other words, essays e-mailed to me later in the day will be considered late. Essays handed in after the class meeting will be deducted a 1/3 of the letter grade for each day that they are late. For instance, if you get a B+ on the essay, but you hand it in on Wednesday instead of Monday, your grade will drop to a B-. If there is some reason why you are unable to hand in the essay on time, you must discuss this with me before the due date. For this class, all essays must be written using the MLA format. I will distribute handouts from the MLA Handbook to help you with this. In addition, all essays must be typed using Times New Roman 12-point font. Also, please use a one to one and a quarter inch margin and title your essays. Everyone is strongly encouraged to meet with me at least a week before each essay is due to discuss your paper topic.
S-U Option (aka Pass/Fail): If you wish to take the course under the S-U option, please consult the registrar’s office for UND’s policies available at: http://und.edu/academics/registrar/catalog-current.cfm.
Plagiarism, or any other form of scholastic dishonesty, is a serious offense and will be subject to official university policy and punitive action as found in the "Code of Student Life" available at http://und.edu/student-affairs/code-of-student-life/_files/docs/code-of-student-life.pdf and reproduced here:
3-3 SCHOLASTIC DISHONESTY
Scholastic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating on a test, plagiarism, and collusion. Cases of dishonesty may be handled as a scholastic matter or as a disciplinary matter at the discretion of the instructor. Instructors choosing to treat the case as a scholastic matter have the authority to decide how the incident of dishonesty will affect the student’s grade in the course. If the instructor has treated the case as a scholastic matter involving the grade in a course and the student has a grievance related to this action, that grievance would be processed as outlined in Section 3-2. Instructors choosing to treat the case as a disciplinary matter will refer the case to the Associate Dean of Student Life for possible resolution; if final resolution does not occur the Associate Dean of Student Life may refer the case to the Student Relations Committee which will handle the matter under Section 2.
A. Cheating on a test includes, but is not restricted to:
1. Copying from another student’s test.
2. Possessing or using material during a test not authorized by the person giving the test.
3. Collaborating with or seeking aid from another student during a test without permission from the instructor.
4. Knowingly using, buying, selling, stealing, transporting, or soliciting in whole or in part the contents of an unadministered test.
5. Substituting for another student or permitting another student to substitute for oneself to take a test.
6. Bribing another person to obtain an unadministered test or information about an unadministered test.
B. Plagiarism means the appropriation, buying, receiving as a gift, or obtaining by any means another person’s work and the unacknowledged submission or incorporation of it in one’s own work.
C. Collusion means the unauthorized collaboration with another person in preparing any academic work offered for credit.
Please remember that you must cite all quotations, summaries, paraphrases and ideas of others, or you will be subject to disciplinary action, such as failure for the course or worse. If you have even the slightest doubt about whether or not you should cite a source, err on the side of caution and cite it.
(the large print giveth, the small print taketh away…schedule subject to change)
8/24 "The Figure in the Carpet," Henry James [handout]
8/27 Excerpt from Anatomy of Criticism, Northrop Frye [handout]
8/29 "Death of the Author," Roland Barthes [handout]
8/31 "What is an Author?" Michel Foucault [handout]
9/3 NO CLASS-Labor Day
9/5 "From Work to Text," Roland Barthes [handout]
9/7 Mao II, DeLillo, "At Yankee Stadium"- Ch. 3
Optional: "Missing Writers," Tom LeClair [handout]
9/10 Mao II, DeLillo, Ch. 4-7
9/12 Mao II, DeLillo, Ch. 8-10
9/14 Mao II, DeLillo, Ch. 11-12
9/17 Finish Mao II, DeLillo
9/19 Critical Article on DeLillo: "Don DeLillo and the Myth of the Author-Recluse," Joe Moran, Journal of American Studies, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Apr. 2000): 137-152 http://www.jstor.org/stable/27556769
9/21 Critical Article on DeLillo: "Don DeLillo and the Myth of the Author-Recluse," Joe Moran, Journal of American Studies, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Apr. 2000): 137-152 http://www.jstor.org/stable/27556769
9/24 Writing and Research
9/26 Agapē Agape, Gaddis pp. 1-55
9/28 Finish Agapē Agape, Gaddis
10/1 Critical Article on Gaddis: "William Gaddis’s Parthian Shot: Social Criticism in the Posthumous Agapē Agape and The Rush for Second Place," Christopher Knight, Critique, Vol. 49, No. 2 (Winter 2008): 205-220.
10/3 Critical Article on Gaddis: Critical Article on Gaddis: "William Gaddis’s Parthian Shot: Social Criticism in the Posthumous Agapē Agape and The Rush for Second Place," Christopher Knight, Critique, Vol. 49, No. 2 (Winter 2008): 205-220.
10/5 A Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man, Heller, "Tom"- "God’s Wife (chapter notes)
10/8 A Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man, Heller, "(Untitled: Isaac) (?)" to "A Pain in the Neck"
10/10 A Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man, Heller
SHORT ESSAY 1 DUE [either on DeLillo or Gaddis]
10/12 Finish Heller
10/15 Critical Article Heller: "’This Book of Ours:’ The Crisis of Authorship and Joseph Heller’s Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man," Laura Elena Savu, Intertexts, Vol. 7, No. 1 (2003): 71-89.
10/17 Critical Article Heller: "’This Book of Ours:’ The Crisis of Authorship and Joseph Heller’s Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man," Laura Elena Savu, Intertexts, Vol. 7, No. 1 (2003): 71-89.
10/19 Galatea 2.2, Powers, pp. 3-84
10/22 Galatea 2.2, Powers, pp. 84-163
10/24 Galatea 2.2, Powers, pp. 163-241
10/26 Finish Galatea 2.2, Powers
10/29 Critical Article on Powers: "Of Neural Nets and Brains in Vats: Model Subjects in Galatea 2.2 and Plus," Mark Bould and Sherryl Vint, Biography 30.1 (Winter 2007): 84-104.
10/31 Critical Article on Powers: "Of Neural Nets and Brains in Vats: Model Subjects in Galatea 2.2 and Plus," Mark Bould and Sherryl Vint, Biography 30.1 (Winter 2007): 84-104.
11/2 The Ghost Writer, Roth, Chapter 1-2
11/5 Finish The Ghost Writer, Roth
11/7 Critical Article on Roth: "An Old Form Revitalized: Philip Roth's Ghost Writer and the Bildungsroman," W. Clark Hendley, Studies in the Novel, 16.1 (Spring 1984): 87-100
11/9 ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY & PROSPECTUS DUE
11/12 NO CLASS-Veterans Day
11/14 "Perchance to Dream," Jonathan Franzen [handout]
11/16 Erasure, Everett, pp. 1-62
SHORT ESSAY 2 DUE [Heller, Powers, or Roth]
11/19 Erasure, Everett, pp. 63-151
11/21 Finish Erasure, Everett
COMPLETE DRAFT OF FINAL PAPER DUE
11/23 NO CLASS-Thanksgiving
11/26 Super Sad True Love Story, Shteyngart, pp. 3-75
11/28 Super Sad True Love Story, Shteyngart, pp. 76-150
11/30 Super Sad True Love Story, Shteyngart, pp. 151-224
12/3 Finish Super Sad True Love Story, Shteyngart
12/5 LAST DAY OF CLASS
12/12 FINAL PAPER DUE BY NOON IN MY MAILBOX