St. Thomas University – Department of English


English 3556 - The Modern Novel

Instructor: David Ingham

Office: EC 119
Hours: MWF 2:30 – 3:30; TuTh 2:30 – 4:30
Phone: 460-0370
Email: dingham@stthomasu.ca

General Description:
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.

Class Format:
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.

Requirements/Mark Breakdown

Quizzes (best 7 of 8) 10%
Group work 10%
Three essays 50%
Final exam 30%

Essay Format:
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.

Students should 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 me.

Required Texts:
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)

Salman Rushdie, 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 for Canadians

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.

Tentative Course Schedule – N.C.I.S. (not carved in stone)

First Semester

Week 1 (4 Sep) Course introduction & outline; guidelines for grading
Week 2 (9 – 11 Sep) (Tu) Diagnostic grammar quiz (Th) Reading and writing about literature: How could I have forgotten so much?
Week 3 (16 – 18 Sep) Introduction to Fiction; Why read fiction? Realism and reactions to it
Week 4 (23 – 25 Sep) Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
Week 5 (30 Se – 2 Oc) Clockwork Orange
Week 6 (7 – 9 Oct) Clockwork Orange
Week 7 (14 – 16 Oct) Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
Week 8 (21 – 23 Oct) Handmaid's Tale (Th) Essay topics distributed
Week 9 (28 – 30 Oct) Keri Hulme, The Bone People
Week 10 (4 – 6 Nov) (Tu) First essay due (TuTh) Bone People
Week 11 (11 – 13 Nov)

(Tu) No class: Remembrance Day (Th) essays returned; wailing and gnashing of teeth

Week 12 (18 – 20 Nov) Findley, Not Wanted on the Voyage
Week 13 (25 – 27 Nov) Not Wanted
Week 14 (2 Dec) catch-up; reflections on the first semester

Note that quizzes will be on the FIRST day (Tuesday) that we study each novel.

Second Semester

Week 1 (6 – 8 Jan) Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (Th) Essay topics distributed
Week 2 (13 – 15 Jan) Slaughterhouse-Five
Week 3 (20 – 22 Jan) Slaughterhouse-Five (Th) Second essay due
Week 4 (27 – 29 Jan) Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker
Week 5 (3 - 5 Feb) Rushdie, Midnight's Children
Week 6 (10 – 12 Feb) Midnight's Children (Th) Essay topics distributed
Week 7 (17 - 19 Feb) Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Week 8 (24 - 26 Feb) Lighthouse (Th) Third Essay due
Week 9 (2 – 4 Mar) No classes:Reading Week. Relax – Ski – Recharge your batteries
Week 10 (9 – 11 Mar) Authorial pretense, narrative self-awareness:the question of metafiction
Week 11 (16 – 20 Mar) Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman
Week 12 (23 – 25 Mar) French Lieutenant's Woman
Week 13 (30 Mr – 2 Ap) French Lieutenant's Woman
Week 14 (6 – 8 Apr) Review; exam preparation

EXAM: Thursday 15 April 9:00 a.m.