ENGL 825:
The Body and Contemporary British Fiction
Fall, 2003; W, 7-9:20 p.m.

Schedule of Classes | Web Resources | Bulletin Board

Schedule for Leading Class Discussions

Professor Karin Westman
108 Denison Hall
Office: 532-2171; Office Hours: M, 1-3 p.m. and by app't.
Email: westmank@ksu.edu

Required Texts
Martin Amis, Time's Arrow (1991) (Vintage)
Pat Barker, Regeneration (1991) (Plume)
A.S. Byatt, Babel Tower (1996) (Vintage International)
Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus (1984) (Viking)
Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001) (Anchor)
Philip Pullman, "His Dark Materials" Trilogy: The Golden Compass (1995), The Subtle Knife (1997), The
Amber Spyglass (2000) (Knopf, published Sept 2002)
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things (1997) (HarperCollins)
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children (1981) (Penguin)
Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000) (Knopf)
Class Pack (selected critical essays, interviews, reviews; will be available at A&S Copy Center in Eisenhower Hall)
Course Description and Objectives
In this seminar, we will explore the body in history as represented in a range of contemporary British novels. Our emphasis will fall more towards fiction than critical theory, but our secondary readings will prompt theoretically informed discussions about the authors and their novels. Our objectives are as follows:
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, think carefully about what you have read, and be ready to share your ideas, in class and online. Excessive absences from our weekly meeting (two or more) may result in failure of the course.
Leading Class Discussion: Seminar participants will sign up individually or in pairs to lead class discussion for one of our class sessions, usually for the first half of the session. (A sign-up sheet will be available at our second class meeting.) Questions and topics for discussion should highlight issues or themes or queries you think we should address. Other critical commentaries or historical context can be introduced, too, to help us explore the reading assigned for that day. Feel free to use this opportunity to your advantage, as you look ahead to the final paper! Seminar participants should contact me in advance to confirm the focus they will take when leading discussion, so we can coordinate our plans.
Electronic Bulletin Board: To offer another venue for discussion, we’ll be using an electronic bulletin board. Each student should post at least one a week to the bulletin board, responding to an existing thread of the conversation or initiating another; weekly postings will count towards your class participation grade. The weekly bulletin board will run from Friday to Thursday, to encourage you to post right after as well as right before our weekly class discussions, but I encourage you to contribute your ideas throughout the week and to check the board for others' postings. I'll monitor these conversations, and will probably 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. Though extra postings to the bulletin board will not automatically replace participation in our class discussions, regular contributions above and beyond your weekly posting can certainly improve your class participation grade.  
Critical Writing: During the semester, you will be doing different kinds of critical writing: informal postings to the bulletin board, more formal response papers, and an essay review, all of which will lead towards your final paper: a 20-25 pp essay which contributes to the current critical conversation about contemporary British fiction.

Response papers, your essay review, and your final paper 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, spell-checked, and use the appropriate MLA citation format. These 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.

Response Papers: Response papers are designed to ready you for class discussion and to explore ideas you could develop further in your final paper. 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 primary and secondary reading assigned for that class session, selecting an issue or theme or question you feel to be significant. During the semester, you will write five response papers (2 pp in length) in response to our readings. Everyone will write a response paper for Regeneration, our first novel; for the remaining four response papers, you may choose which four novels you would like to discuss. Response papers are due at the start of class on the day we begin our discussion of the reading. 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.

We'll discuss the essay review (4-5 pp.) and the final paper (20-25 pp.) in the weeks ahead.
Online, Video, and Reserve Resources: During the semester, I will refer you to resources available online or on video to complement our readings and discussions. A "Web Resources" link from our course homepage will take you to a page of links devoted to our authors, their work, and the times in which they lived. Several books are on reserve at Hale Library as well.
The response papers (20%), the essay review (10%), and class participation (20%) will count for half of your grade. The final writing project -- a 20-25 pp. essay (50%) -- completes the requirements.

Schedule of Classes

(subject to change)

August 20 Introduction: Body / Contemporary British / Fiction
Brannigan, "Conclusion," Orwell to the Present: Literature in England, 1945-2000

Barker, Regeneration
Selected reviews of Regeneration; Whitehead, "Open to Suggestion: Hypnosis and History in Pat Barker's Regeneration"; Hutcheon, from The Politics of Postmodernism (1-7, 47-54, 71-78); Gasiorek, from Post-War British Fiction: Realism and After (1-22, 179-195) [available for xerox in DE 122]
Response Paper #1 Due (2 pages) on Barker's Regeneration
September 3 McEwan, Atonement
Class Pack: "Introduction" (6-7), "Interview with Ian McEwan" (10-23), and "Part Four" (160-163) from Ian McEwan: The Essential Guide; selected reviews of Atonement
Amis, Time's Arrow
Class Pack: Selected reviews of Time's Arrow; "Interview with Martin Amis" (12-26) from Martin Amis: The Essential Guide; Menke, "Narrative Reversals and the Thermodynamics of History in Martin Amis's Time's Arrow"; Adorno, "Notes on Kafka" (245-271)
Winterson, The Passion
Class Pack: Winterson, from "Reader, Writer, Words" (26-27, 40-44); "Interview with Jeanette Winterson" (11-29) from Jeanette Winterson: The Essential Guide; Palmer, "The Passion: Storytelling, Fantasy, Desire" (103-116); Humphries, "Listening for the Author's Voice: 'Un-Sexing' the Wintersonian Oeuvre" (3-16) and Bengtson, "The Vast, Unmappable Cities of the Interior: Place and Passion in The Passion" (17-26) [available for xerox in DE 122].
Carter, Nights at the Circus
Class Pack: Robinson, from Engendering the Subject: Gender and Self-Representation in Contemporary Women's Fiction (116-132); Eaglestone, "The Fiction of Angela Carter: The Woman Who Loved to Tell Stories" (194-209); Michael, "Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus: An Engaged Feminism via Subversive Postmodern Strategies" (206-227)
Byatt, Babel Tower
Class Pack: Selected reviews of Babel Tower; Alfer, "Realism and Its Discontents: The Virgin in the Garden and Still Life" (47-59); Noble, "A Tower of Tongues: Babel Tower and the Art of Memory" (61-74)
Byatt, continued.
Rushdie, Midnight's Children
Class Pack: Rushdie, "Imaginary Homelands" (9-21), "'Errata': or, Unreliable Narration in Midnight's Children" (22-25), and "'Commonwealth Literature' Does Not Exist" (61-70); Wormald, "The Uses of Impurity: Fiction and Fundamentalism in Salman Rushdie and Jeanette Winterson" (182-201); two or three additional critical essays on Rushdie, TBA.
Rushdie, continued.
F 24
Essay review (4-5 pp.) due to my mailbox in DE 122 by 5 p.m.
Roy, The God of Small Things
Class Pack: Selected reviews of The God of Small Things; Roy's address to the Dalit Sahitya Akademi; from Sharma and Talwar, Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things: Critique and Commentary (vii-viii, 9-17, 27-31, 42-54, 96-103); Bose, "In Desire and in Death: Eroticism as Politics in Arundhati Roy's 'The God of Small Things'" (59-72)
Smith, White Teeth
Class Pack: Phillips, "Introduction: A Little Luggage" (241-46), "The Pioneers: Fifty Years of Caribbean Migration to Britain" (264-282), "Conclusion: The 'High Anxiety' of Belonging" (309), and "White Teeth by Zadie Smith" (283-87) from A New World Order: Selected Essays; Head, "Zadie Smith's White Teeth: Multiculturalism for the Millennium" (106-119)
Pullman, The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife
Class Pack: "Talking to Philip Pullman"
Pullman, The Amber Spyglass
Class Pack: Poole, "Philip Pullman and the Republic of Heaven"; an additional critical essay, TBA.

Thanksgiving Break

December 3 Workshop Discussion for Final Papers
F 5 Final Paper (20-25 pp.) and abstract due to my mailbox in DE122 by 5 p.m.
10 Presentation of Final Papers