Thomas University Department of English
3556 - The Modern Novel
Office: EC 119
Hours: MWF 2:30 3:30; TuTh 2:30 4:30
In this course we will explore a selection of novels ranging from the
"high modernism" of post WWI to contemporary "postmodernism."
I have made an attempt to strike a balance with regard to the gender
of the authors as well as "national" literatures, while at
the same time covering a wide range of settings, forms, conventions,
techniques, and concerns. (Another criterion by no means the
least important was to try to pick novels that you would find
interesting and enjoyable.) Primary to our approach will be on close
readings of the novels, attempting to discover both what they
mean and (more importantly) how they mean, providing students
with the skills, insights, and analytical tools they need to read and
discuss virtually any modern novel on their own.
Since the main focus of the course is on skill development (specifically,
reading, writing, thinking, and speaking the "learning outcomes"
in EdSpeak) and NOT on a transfer of information, it cannot proceed
primarily by means of lectures. But since the absurdly high enrolments
permitted at STU make full-class discussions difficult (if not impossible)
to conduct well, roughly half of the classes will consist of group work.
The paradigm will
entail a quiz on the FIRST day we look at a given novel; the quizzes
are designed to reward students for having carefully read the novels
note that a cursory reading will not be adequate
and also to show students the sort of things a good, careful
reader will note: The quizzes will not focus on obscure or insignificant
details. This first day quiz will always be on a Tuesday, so you'll
always have a weekend to read (re-read) a novel.
On the Thursday,
we'll have a look at various aspects of the novel, with a view to finding
areas worth exploring in detail in small group discussions the next
week. My intention is to divide the class (or have you divide yourselves)
into seven groups of ten.
On the next Tuesday,
each group will choose a topic and spend the rest of the class discussing
it. I'll be moving from group to group to help you when you get stuck,
to offer suggestions, to give page numbers for relevant passages, and
so on. The next class (Thursday), each group will have about ten minutes
to give the rest of the class a summary of their discussion, allowing
time for questions or further discussion with the class as a whole.
If we run out of time, the group(s) that did not have a chance to present
will be expected to hand in a written version of the summary.
Active participation in these group discussions will determine
part of your grade. Needless to say, you won't be able to make
a contribution if you're not there or haven't read the novel.
7 of 8)
All essays are to be typed (CG Times or Roman font, 12 points in size),
double-spaced, on one side only, with pages numbered, and paper-clipped
(not stapled) together. Be sure to include a "List of Works Cited"
(even if you quote only the class text). (Needless to say, be sure to
have an informative title, and include your name, my name, and the course
number on the first page.)
Students who, for legitimate reasons, cannot complete their essays by
the deadline should see me at least a day before the deadline
to obtain an extension form, and avoid penalty.
make and retain at least one extra (backup) copy of all essays
ideally both a hard copy (printout) and on disk.
Plagiarism means passing off another person's work or ideas as one's
own (including the internet, other students' essays, or purchased essays).
Debts to others must always be indicated in footnotes or (preferably)
using parenthetical documentation (see the MLA Handbook for the
proper format). You must acknowledge such debts if you quote
someone else's exact words, if you paraphrase someone else's
words, or if you make use of someone else's original idea. The
minimum penalty for substantial plagiarism is a zero
for the assignment; you could even be dismissed from STU. (See the Academic
Calendar, section F, pp. 237-38.) If you have any doubts, please consult
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale (Seal)
Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (Penguin)
Timothy Findley, Not Wanted on the Voyage (Penguin)
John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman (Back Bay)
Keri Hulme, The Bone People (Penguin)
Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker (Random House)
Midnight's Children (Random House)
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse ( Harvest)
A good dictionary, such as the Gage Canadian
Sylvan Barnet & Reid Gilbert, A Short Guide to Writing about
Literature (Addison Wesley)
A grammar handbook if you need one, such as the Harbrace Pocket Guide
Remember to buy
your books early: The Bookstore returns unsold texts rather quickly.
Do read ahead if you can you'll get a lot more out of a piece
of literature if you read it more than once.
Course Schedule N.C.I.S. (not carved in stone)
introduction & outline; guidelines for grading
Diagnostic grammar quiz (Th) Reading and writing about literature:
How could I have forgotten so much?
to Fiction; Why read fiction? Realism and reactions to it
A Clockwork Orange
Se 2 Oc)
The Handmaid's Tale
Tale (Th) Essay topics distributed
Hulme, The Bone People
First essay due (TuTh) Bone People
(Tu) No class:
Remembrance Day (Th) essays returned; wailing and gnashing of
Not Wanted on the Voyage
reflections on the first semester
that quizzes will be on the FIRST day (Tuesday) that we study each novel.
Slaughterhouse-Five (Th) Essay topics distributed
(Th) Second essay due
Still Life with Woodpecker
- 5 Feb)
Children (Th) Essay topics distributed
- 19 Feb)
To the Lighthouse
- 26 Feb)
(Th) Third Essay due
classes:Reading Week. Relax Ski Recharge your batteries
pretense, narrative self-awareness:the question of metafiction
The French Lieutenant's Woman
Mr 2 Ap)
15 April 9:00 a.m.