HEAV 122, MWF 311:30-12:20
Office Hours: MWF 3:30-4:30
Office: HEAV 311B, 49-43727
This graduate seminar will introduce students to the utility of structural, especially narratological, models for the analysis of not only literature but also politics and ideology. Two competing although interdependent paradigms for narrative will be explored: the historical model and the fictional model. We will be particularly interested in those instances where the two models intersect and in the historical developments (from the Medieval period through the Postmodern) that led to their presumed and actual separation. The course aligns theoretical approaches with specific texts to illustrate and allow students to implement various critical approaches to literature. A continuing goal will be to find examples from contemporary society that make clear the applicability of the theoretical schools to cultural artifacts beyond literary texts. We will also be working throughout the semester to apply our theoretical readings to specific texts and films from Scott to Coppola and beyond.
Scott, Sir Walter. Ivanhoe .
Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights .
Barthes, Roland. S/Z .
Brooks, Peter. Reading for the Plot .
Freud, Sigmund. Beyond the Pleasure Principle .
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness . New York: Dover, 1990.
Spiegelman, Art. Maus I and II
Note: there is also a Reader available at CopyMat
The basic narratological concepts of story and discourse will be discussed this week through heuristic examples from Star Trek and Citizen Kane. What constitutes a "good" narrative? To what extent can we say that a narrative always "stacks the deck" to some extent, imposing order on the uncertainty of the real? Though we may praise a narrative for its mimetic referentiality, inevitably it is the re-ordering of discourse that incessantly imposes meaning on the unrelated contiguous events of a diegetic world. Indeed, this fact of narrative form helps explain why humans feel the need to replay traumatic events until those events achieve a certain degree of meaning (Freud's repetition compulsion). Foucault and Benjamin represent two critics who question narrative's tendency to order reality; each critic attempts to open up historical narrative form to the heterogeneity of the historical real.
Monday, January 12:
Principium: Introduction to class goals, requirements, and Web resources
Wednesday, January 14
Introduction to basic narrative terms via Star Trek and Citizen Kane
S. Cohan and L.M. Shires, Telling Stories (58-59, 83-89)
S. Chatman, Story and Discourse
Friday, January 16
M. Foucault, Introduction to Archaeology of Knowledge
W. Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History"
In this second week, we will explore the very origins of narrative in an effort to understand the divergent uses to which narrative is put in the representation of historical and fictional "reality." In what ways is our understanding of time and space affected by the construction of our contemporary version of narrative reality? We will also follow Hayden White's lead and discuss how history may to some extent be indebted to genres and modes borrowed from fictional literature. On Friday with Lukács, we will then begin our discussion of Marxism and its influence on questions of narrative and historical representation.
Monday, January 19:
Martin Luther King Day
Wednesday, January 21
Frye, "First Essay" in his Anatomy of Criticism
H. White, "The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality"
H. White, Introduction to Metahistory, "The Poetics of History"
Friday, January 23
G. Lukács, The Historical Novel
Having discussed narrative's relation to historical narrative, we will this week begin our discussion of one of the primary theoretical schools concerned with fiction's relationship to history: Marxism. We will also discuss "medievalism" as a pop cultural phenomenon, one that manages to appeal, in Raymond Williams' terms, to dominant, emergent, as well as residual aspects of Scott's society. Bakhtin will also offer to us yet another term, the chronotope, that can help us to understand narrative's manipulation of its time-space continuum, its diegetic world.
Monday, January 26
Talk: D. Felluga, "Scott and the Technology of the Book"
Wednesday, January 28
M Wiener, English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit
M. Girouard, The Return to Camelot
R. Williams, "Dominant, Residual, and Emergent"
Friday, January 30
M. Bakhtin, "Forms of Time and Chronotope in the Novel" and "Bildungsroman and Its Significance in the History of Realism"
This week we will continue our exploration of an important concept in the understanding and emplotment of the historical real: dialectical materialism. The obvious question we will explore is: what is Scott's place in the dialectical changes occurring at the turn of the nineteenth century?
Monday, February 2
Talk: R. Dienst, "Marx, Magic, and Debt"
Wednesday, February 4
M. McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel
Friday, February 6
F. Jameson, The Political Unconscious (34-35, 95-99)
Building on the discussions we have had so far, we will examine a text which self-consciously thematizes the transition from a Romantic concern with the transcendent to a Victorian concern with the domestic real. To what extent is the transition successful? How precisely does mimetic realism function? Is there a fundamental narrative distinction to be made between lyric poetry and the realist novel? Jakobsen will help us to begin our discussion of the two interrelated forces of narrative: a metonymic principle of deferral, dilation, and dispersal and a metaphoric principle of order, meaning, and closure.
Monday, February 9
Final discussion of Ivanhoe
Wednesday, February 11
R. Jakobson, "The Metaphoric and Metonymic Poles"
S. Cohan and L. M. Shires, Telling Stories, 64-70
Friday, February 13
J. Clayton, Romantic Vision and the Novel (Introduction)
W. Wordsworth, The Prelude, Book VI (Simplon Pass episode)
Building on our discussion of Jakobsen's distinction between metaphoric and metonymic poles, we will this week examine two prominent critics that have suggested how every narrative incorporates both a metonymic, dispersive dimension of contiguity and a metaphoric, repetitive dimension of substitution.
Monday, February 16
Extended discussion of Wuthering Heights
Wednesday, February 18
J. H. Miller, Fiction and Repetition
Friday, February 20
M. Riffaterre, Fictional Truth
Roland Barthes offers us a different structural understanding of the workings of narrative. His work will be examined in its entirety, providing us not only with additional terminology but also a foreshadowing of the postmodern critics that we will read in the final weeks.
Monday, February 23
Talk: D. Felluga, "The Psychodynamics of Literary Form"
Wednesday, February 25
Friday, February 27
Yet one more structuralist critic, A. J. Greimas, will round out our understanding of narrative form, specifically the relationship of narrative structure to ideological contradiction. In this way, we can connect our new structural terminology to the Marxist readings of the course's first weeks.
Monday, March 2
Talk: D. Felluga, "The Narrative Secret of Edmund Drood"
Wednesday, March 4
A. Greimas, On Meaning (and Jameson's Forward to this edition)
Friday, March 6
F. Jameson, The Political Unconscious (46-49, 119-29, 166-69, 254-57)
How does psychoanalysis provide us with a strong paradigm by which to understand the dynamic energies unleashed and controlled by narrative structure? Can a psychoanalytic approach help us to understand the social function of narrative form?
Monday, March 16
Talk: E. Allen, "Supplementary, My Dear Watson: Reading Sherlock Holmes' Open Secret"
Wednesday, March 18
D. A. Miller, "Secret Subjects, Open Secrets"
P. Brooks, Reading for the Plot (3-48, 216-37)
Friday, March 20
S. Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle
Building on last week's discussions about psychoanalysis, we will now apply our insights to Conrad's Heart of Darkness, yet another frame tale that circles around some apparently inexprimable core at the heart of the work's narratives and narrations. Zizek will also provide us with an explanation of the retroactive nature of meaning formation in both fictional and historical narrative, and will thus suggest how all meaning-formation might be seen as a sort of reaction formation, a response to the inherent trauma of the real (in the Lacanian sense).
Monday, March 23
G. Friedman, "History and the Traumatic Narrative of Desire in Althusser"
Wednesday, March 25
L. Althusser, For Marx
P. Brooks, Reading for the Plot, 238-63
Friday, March 27
S. Zizek, "The Truth Arises from Misrecognition" and an additional short excerpt from the Sublime Object of Ideology
After a showing of Coppola's Apocalypse Now, we will spend the week discussing student projects and the relationship of these projects to the theories we've examined so far this semester.
Monday, March 30
Evening Screening: F. F. Coppola, Apocalypse Now
Wednesday, April 1
ANAGNORISIS: Discussion of Student Projects
Friday, April 3
ANAGNORISIS: Discussion of Student Projects
Click here for a Sample Student Reading of Conrad
After a showing of Citizen Kane, we will explore how the issues and terms we've examined so far change or remain the same when we enter the medium of film.
Monday, April 6
Evening Screening: O. Welles, Citizen Kane
Wednesday, April 8
Friday, April 10
W. Benjamin, "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"
We will begin by defining the parameters of the postmodern revolution. What is postmodernism? How precisely does it question the assumptions of positivist history and realist fiction? What are its political goals? Benjamin (last Friday's reading) will provide us with a Marxist spin on these questions.
Monday, April 13
Talk: D. Felluga, "Postmodernism and the Problem of Ground"
Wednesday, April 15
J. Baudrillard, "Precession of Simulacra," "History," and "Holocaust"
J.-F. Lyotard, the Differend and the Postmodern Condition
Friday, April 17
This week we will take up the argument about postmodernism and its re-working of narrative conventions from the nineteenth century. To what extent should we praise or criticize the historical and critical work of what Hutcheon terms "historiographic metafiction"?
Monday, April 20
Talk: D. Felluga, "History, Justice, and Postmodernism"
Wednesday, April 22
L. Hutcheon, A Poetics of Postmodernism
F. Jameson, Postmodernism
Friday, April 24
H. White, "Historical Emplotment and the Problem of Truth"
A. Liu, "Local Transcendence"
Click here for a Sample Student Conference Proposal
We return to psychoanalysis this week as we explore its importance in the understanding of traumatic historical events like the Holocaust. To what extent does narrative conceal or heal such events in our past?
Monday, April 27
Talk: D. Felluga, "Kitsch, Death, and Postmodernism"
Wednesday, April 29
E. Santner, "History Beyond the Pleasure Principle"
D. LaCapra, "Representing the Holocaust"
Friday, May 1
Last Revised: March 5, 1998
Moving ruler image courtesy of D Creelma
Running cat image courtesy of Media Builder