ENGL 730: Contemporary British Literature
Fall, 2009; MWF 10:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m.
This course will be an introductory, but intensive, survey of representative contemporary British writers from about 1950 to the present. We will focus on writers' responses to earlier traditions of realism and modernism, exploring the techniques of narrative fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry offered by their work; we will also trace the themes that these authors raise as they both respond and contribute to the increasingly postmodern and postcolonial experience of British culture. Cultural, historical, and theoretical context will be integrated into discussion by means of lecture and secondary readings and resources, allowing us to situate our close readings of the texts within the historical moment of their production and reception.
Class Participation and Attendance: Class participation is, of course, required. To participate, you must complete the reading assigned for each class session, think carefully about what you have read, and come to class ready to share your ideas. Your attendance is therefore important. You will not be penalized for your first three absences; thereafter, your final course grade will drop one grade (i.e., B+ to B) for each day missed. Excessive absences (six or more) may result in failure of the course. While I appreciate your offering explanations for absences, the only way to excuse an absence is to provide me with an official letter from your dean or an official notice of illness from the Health Center or your doctor.Your participation grade includes your contributions to our discussions in class (in large and small groups) and to our discussions on the online message board. I will expect at least one posting a week from each student to the online message board; the guidelines and instructions for using the message board appear below.
Papers and Response Papers: All students will write one shorter paper (5 pages in length); undergraduates will also write a longer paper (7-8 pages in length), while graduate students will also write a longer paper with secondary sources (10 pages in length), an essay review of four articles or a book-length study about one of our authors, and a one-page abstract for the longer paper. All papers will be on topics of your choosing in connection with our assigned readings. Papers should follow the general rules of composition and be typed or word-processed with standard double-spacing, 1-inch margins, and either 11- or 12-point typeface. Title pages and cover sheets are unnecessary. Pages should be numbered, stapled together, proof-read, and spell-checked. Papers are due by the date and time on the syllabus; late papers will be penalized one grade (i.e.: A to B) for each day late. (Note: The University’s Honor Code obliges you to cite the source of any idea that is not your own. Otherwise, you have plagiarized. If you do plagiarize, you will fail this course.)
You will also write five weekly response papers (2 pp in length) in response to our readings. Response papers are designed to ready you for class discussion and to explore ideas you could develop further in your longer papers. They are due the day we discuss the material. In your response paper, you should not repeat previous class discussions or provide a mere summary of the reading. Instead, your response should begin to analyze the reading assigned for that class session, selecting a issue or theme or question you feel to be significant. (Please refer to the sample response paper distributed the first day of class.) You can choose when to complete your five responses, with the following guidelines in mind: 1) you can only write a response for a day when we have reading due, 2) one (and only one) response must be for a critical essay or critical reading, 3) two responses must respond to novels, and 4) three responses should be completed before October 16th, with the first being due for everyone on Friday, August 28th. Responses will be graded on a 1-5 scale: 5=A, 4=B, 3=C, 2=D, 1=F. I do not accept late response papers.
An average posting should run about one or two paragraphs in length. In other words, your postings do not need to be long; however, they need to be substantive: they must be long enough to convey clearly the problem you are taking up and your point of view, connecting your comment to others' comments whenever possible. I will offer models of successful comments early in the semester.
Conferences: I want you to succeed in this course, and I am happy to meet with you about your work and your progress. I encourage you to see me before papers are due, or if you have questions about material we discuss in class. Please feel free to stop by during office hours (M, W 9:00-10:00 a.m.), or contact me by phone or email to arrange a more convenient time to meet.
Note: If you have any condition such as a physical or learning disability that will make it difficult for you to carry out the work as I have outlined it or which will require academic accommodations, please notify me in the first two days of the course.
Graduate Students: The shorter paper will count for 10%, the essay review will count for 10%, and the longer paper and its abstract will count for 25% of your final grade. The response papers will count for 20% of your final grade. Class participation (20%) and a final exam (15%) complete the requirements.
Schedule of Classes
[CP] = Class Pack; [X]=items distributed as xeroxes
|August||M 24||Introduction: England, c. 1950|
"I know this is paradise" - Larkin, "High Windows" (1967)
|W 26||Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (1988) (1-141); Background reading: Davies, "From Imperial to Post-Imperial Britain" (1-8) and Morley and Robins, "Chronology" (504-10) [CP]|
|F 28||The Remains of the Day (143-245); Connor, from "Outside In," The English Novel In History, 1950-1990 (83-89, 104-112), Shafer, "Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day" (1157-174) [CP]; Response Paper #1 due (2 pp.)|
|M 30||Osborne, Look Back in Anger (1956) (1-96)|
|September||W 2||Look Back in Anger; critical readings on Osborne [CP]; Leading Discussion #1|
|W 4||Selected poems: Larkin [CP]|
|M 7||No Class -- Labour Day|
|W 9||Selected poems: Larkin [CP]|
|F 11||Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) (5-176)|
|M 14||Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (177-219)|
|W 16||Selected Poems: Raine; Harrison; Hughes [CP]|
|F 18||Selected poems: Hughes [CP]|
Outside, Looking In: Nation, Rebellion, Obsession
|Su 20||Evening viewing of "The Prisoner"|
|M 21||Two episodes of "The Prisoner"(1967-68); critical readings on The Prisoner [CP]|
|T 22||Paper #1 due (5 pp.) to my mailbox in ECS 119 by 5 p.m.|
|W 23||Selected poems: Adcock and Cope [CP]|
|F 25||Phillips, from A New World Order (2001); Selected poems: Soyinka, Walcott, Agard, Zephaniah, Kay, Alvi, Collins; Childs, "Anti- and Post-Colonial Writing" [CP]|
|M 28||Lodge, Changing Places (1975) (7-151)|
|W 30||Changing Places (153-251); Connor, from "Conditions of England" (44-50, 69-74); Davies, "Britain, Europe, and Americanisation" (103-109) [CP]; Leading Discussion #2|
|October||F 2||A Riot of One's Own: Punk and Protest, with guest speakers Phil Nel and Tim Dayton; Marcus, "Anarchy in U.K." (1980) [CP]; selected lyrics [X]|
|M 5||No Class -- Fall Break|
|W 7||Hornby, from Fever Pitch [CP]; Phillips, from A New World Order [CP]|
|F 9||Fielding, Bridget Jones's Diary (1997) (1-153); Connor, from "The Novel in Contemporary History" (13-27) [CP]|
|M 12||Bridget Jones's Diary (157-271); readers' comments at Amazon.com; interview with Fielding; critical commentaries [CP]; Leading Discussion #3|
(Re)Writing the Past . . .
|W 14||Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) (9-64)|
|F 16||Wide Sargasso Sea (64-112)|
|M 19||Wide Sargasso Sea; excerpts from Bronte's Jane Eyre (119-132 ); excerpts from Rhys' letters & facsimile of mss. (135-147); and Rody, "Burning Down the House..." (217-225); Leading Discussion #4|
|W 21||Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969) (1-103/Chps1-16)|
|F 23||The French Lieutenant's Woman (104-195/Chps17-30)|
|M 26||The French Lieutenant's Woman (196-279/Chps 31-47)|
|W 28||The French Lieutenant's Woman (280-366/Chps 48-end); Michael, "'Who is Sarah?': A Critique of The French Lieutenant's Woman's Feminism" [CP]|
|R 29||Essay Review due (3-4 pages) to my mailbox in ECS 119 by 5 p.m.|
|F 30||Winterson, Sexing the Cherry (1989) (1-77)|
|November||M 2||Sexing the Cherry (78-167);Winterson, from Art Objects; interview, reviews of Sexing the Cherry [CP]|
|W 4||Sexing the Cherry; Winterson, from "Reader, Writer, Words" from Art Objects [X]; Wasserstrom, "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been ... Postmodern?"; Hutcheon, The Politics of Postmodernism (1-7, 47-54, 71-78); Doan, "Sexing the Postmodern" [CP]|
|F 6||No class -- work on prospectus for Paper #2 / view The Crying Game|
|M 9||Churchill, Cloud 9 (1978) (1-92); critical reviews of Churchill [CP]|
|W 11||Cloud 9; Jordan, The Crying Game (1992)|
|R 12||Prospectus/Abstract for Paper #2 due (1 page) to my mailbox in ECS 119 by 5 p.m.|
|F 13||Jordan, The Crying Game; Jordan, "Introduction to The Crying Game"; Giles, from The Crying Game; Chumo, "The Crying Game, Hitchcockian Romance, and the Quest for Identity"; Daly, "Post-Colonial Carnival (?): Neil Jordan's The Crying Game" [CP for ENGL 801 / xerox]; Leading Discussion #5|
|M 16||Selected poems: Heaney [CP]; Childs, from The Twentieth-Century in Poetry (182-189) [CP]|
|W 18||Selected poems: Heaney [CP]|
|F 20||Smith, White Teeth (4-152)|
|M 23||White Teeth (153-339)|
|W 25||No Class --|
|F 27||Thanksgiving Break|
|M 30||Smith (343-448); reader comments and critical reviews/reading(s) on Smith [CP]; Leading Discussion #6|
. . . and Imagining the Future
|December||W 2||Rosoff, How I Live Now (2004); reviews of Rosoff [X]|
|R 3||Paper #2 (and abstract) due to my mailbox in ECS 119 by 5 p.m. (graded paper returned by Friday, Dec 11)|
|W 8||Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1980); Leading Discussion #7|
|F 10||Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Review for Final Exam|
|M 14||Final Exam, 11:50 a.m. - 1:40 p.m.|