ENGL 395:
Contemporary British Literature
Fall, 1999; MWF 10-10:50 a.m.

Schedule of Classes (Revised) | Web Resources | Bulletin Board

Professor Karin Westman
74 George Street, #101
Office: 953-5658; Office Hours: M, W 1:30-2:30 p.m.; R 10-12 noon, and by app't.
Required Texts
Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day(1988)
Osborne, Look Back in Anger (1956)
Lodge, Changing Places (1975)
Fielding, Bridget Jones's Diary (1997)
Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) (Norton Critical Edition)
Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969)
Winterson, Sexing the Cherry (1989)
Friel, Translations (1980) [CP]
Churchill, Cloud 9 (1978)
Rushdie, from Satanic Verses (1988) [CP]
Roy, The God of Small Things (1997)
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's [Philosopher's] Stone (1998)
Stoppard, Arcadia (1993)
Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1980)
Selected poetry of Larkin, Hughes, Raine, Harrison, Adcock, Cope, Heaney, Muldoon [CP]
Class Pack [available at SASE Ink, 49 Wentworth Street]

Course Description:
A study of representative writers from 1945 to the present, focusing on writers' responses to earlier traditions of realism and modernism. Works will include fiction, drama, and poetry by such authors as Martin Amis, A.S. Byatt, Tom Stoppard, Philip Larkin, and Seamus Heaney.

Course Objectives:
During the course of the semester we will study how a variety of authors both respond and contribute to the increasingly postmodern and postcolonial experience of British culture since 1945. During our discussions we will explore the techniques of narrative fiction, drama, and poetry offered by these British authors. Cultural and historical context will be integrated into discussion by means of lecture and secondary readings.

Requirements and General Expectations:
Class Participation and Attendance: Class participation is, of course, required. To participate, you must complete the reading assigned for each class session and think carefully about what you have read. 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 (five 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.

Leading Class Discussion: Depending on the number enrolled, students will sign up individually or in pairs to initiate discussion for one of our class sessions. Discussion leaders will encourage us to explore the connections between the secondary readings and the novel. In most cases discussion topics are provided below. Students leading discussion should meet with me in advance to confirm the focus of their discussion questions.

Papers and Response Papers: You will write two papers, one short (5 pp) and one long (10 pp), on topics of your choosing in connection with our readings. Papers should follow the general rules of composition and be typed or word-processed with standard double-spacing, 1-inch margins, and either 10- or 12-point typeface. Title pages and cover sheets are unnecessary. Pages should be numbered, stapled together, 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.
You will also write seven 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. You can choose when to complete your seven 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, and 3) two responses must respond to novels. 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. (Extra credit opportunities will go towards your response paper grade.)

Electronic Bulletin Board: In part because the enrollment figure keeps rising and in part to offer another venue for discussion, we'll start using an electronic bulletin board at the end of the week. Each student is encouraged to post at least once a week to the bulletin board, responding to an existing thread of the conversation or initiating another. I'll monitor these conversations, and may also participate, but I see the bulletin board primarily as a way for you to raise issues we haven't addressed--or addressed fully or to your satisfaction--during our regular class meetings. Posting to the bulletin board will not replace participation in class discussions, but regular contributions can certainly improve your class participation grade. (Technical details will follow shortly.)

Grading: The two papers will count for 40% of your final grade (15% and 25% respectively); the response papers will count for 20% of your final grade. Class participation (20%) and a final exam (20%) complete the requirements.

Schedule of Classes (Revised)

August W 25 Introduction: England, c. 1950

"I know this is paradise" -Larkin, "High Windows" (1967)

F 27
Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (1988) (1-141)
M 30
W 1
F 3
The Remains of the Day (143-245); Connor, from "Outside
In," The English Novel In History, 1950-1990 (83-89,
104-112) [CP]
Osborne, Look Back in Anger (1956) (1-96)
Look Back in Anger; critical reading(s) on Osborne [X]
Discussion #1: [Open Topic]
M 6
W 8
F 10
Selected poems: Larkin [CP]
Selected poems: Larkin [CP], Raine [CP], Hughes [CP, X]
Selected poems: Hughes [CP, X], Harrison [CP]
M 13
W 15
F 17
Selected poems: Adcock and Cope [CP]
[Hurricane Floyd]
[Hurricane Floyd]
M 20
W 22
F 24
M 27
Lodge, Changing Places (1975) (7-151)
Changing Places (153-251); Connor, from "Conditions of
England" (44-50, 69-74) [CP]
Fielding, Bridget Jones's Diary (1997) (1-153)
Bridget Jones's Diary (157-271); excerpts from readers'
comments at Amazon.com [X]; interview with Fielding [CP];
Connor, from "The Novel in Contemporary History" (13-27)
Discussion #2: Hate It or Love It?: Reader Response to BJD


(Re)Writing the Past...



W 29
F 1
Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) (9-64)
Wide Sargasso Sea (64-112)
M 4
W 6
F 8
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)
Discussion #3: Wide Sargasso Sea as Rhys' Jane Eyre?
Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969) (1-103)
The French Lieutenant's Woman (104-195)
M 11
W 13
R 14
F 15
The French Lieutenant's Woman (196-279)
The French Lieutenant's Woman (280-366); Michael,
"'Who is Sarah?': A Critique of The French Lieutenant's
Woman's Feminism" [CP]
Paper #1 Due (5 pp.)
Winterson, Sexing the Cherry (1989) (1-77)
Fall Break - October 16th - 19th
T 19
W 20
F 22
Extra Session on Friel's Translations [CP], 1 p.m. in ECTR 102.
Sexing the Cherry (78-167); reviews of Sexing the Cherry [X]
Sexing the Cherry;Wasserstrom, "Are You Now or Have
You Ever Been ...Postmodern?" [CP]; Hutcheon, The Politics
of Postmodernism (1-7, 47-54, 71-78) [CP]
M 25
W 27
F 29
Churchill, Cloud 9 (1978)
Cloud 9; Jordan, The Crying Game
The Crying Game; critical reading(s) onThe Crying
Game [X]
Discussion #4: A Radical Political Statement or an
Old-Fashioned Love Story?
M 1
W 3
F 5
Selected poems: Heaney [X]
Selected poems: Heaney and Muldoon [X]
No Class; Work on Prospectus for Paper #2
M 8
W 10
F 12
Selected poems: Adcock and Walcott [CP]
Rushdie, from The Satanic Verses (1988) [CP]
The Satanic Verses [CP]; Critical reading(s) on/by Rushdie [X]
Discussion #5: The Rushdie Affair
Prospectus for Paper #2 Due (1-2 pp.)
M 15
W 17
F 19
Roy, The God of Small Things (1998)
The God of Small Things
The God of Small Things; Critical reading(s) on Roy [X]
Discussion #6: Hate It or Love It, Part II: Reader
Response to Roy


...and Imagining the Future

M 22
W 24
Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone(1998)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone; Reviews and excerpts
from reader response at Amazon.com [X]
Discussion #7: Crossing the Atlantic and Reader
Demographics: Editorial Changes, Marketing Strategies,
and Reader Response
Thanksgiving Break - November 25th - 28th
M 29
W 1
F 3
Stoppard, Arcadia (1993)
Arcadia; Paper #2 Due (8-10 pp.) for return by Dec. 6th
Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy(1980)
Discussion #8: [Open Topic]
M 6
F 10
Adams; Paper #2 Due (8-10 pp.) for return by Dec. 10th;
Review for Final Exam
No Class -- Prepare for Final Exam
Final Exam, 8 -11 am.


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Last updated 6 December 1999