The Novel, ENGL 241 (Fall 2017)

Mondays & Wednesdays – 4:15-5:30 PM
Room: Hall 633 SGW

Professor: Michael Nardone
Office Hours: Mondays, 2-3:30 PM. Room: LB 663.
Class Site: The Novel, ENGL 241.

Email: mdn [at] soundobject [dot] net
Please note that I will only be able to respond to emails on Monday and Wednesday mornings. Please write “ENGL 241” in email subject.

This course is an introduction to the varieties of novelistic forms and their contexts in contemporary North American anglophone literature. It familiarizes students with critical approaches to the novel and the history of the novel as a literary genre, with an emphasis on literary production and publication in contemporary cultural milieus.

First Three Responses – 30% – Due 25 October, in class.
Final Project – 50% – Due 12 December, by 5 PM, in English Department mailbox.
Participation – 20% – Throughout the semester.

1. I Hate the Internet, by Jarett Kobek
2. Kindred, by Octavia Butler
3. Double Teenage, by Joni Murphy

All three of these novels are available at Librarie Drawn & Quarterly at a 10% discount! All you have to do is tell a staff member that you are a student in this class. If you can, buy the three books there, and support a great bookstore. Otherwise, the books are available at regular price at the Concordia Bookstore.

In addition to these books, we will read two out-of-print books:

1. The Stone Face, by William Gardner Smith
2. Looking for Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence, by M. NourbeSe Philip: Part 1; Part 2.

I have worked out electronic access for these novels, which I will circulate when we read them. For the second book, Looking for Livingstone, we will work collectively with the novel manuscript in order to prepare a new version of the book that we will publish as part of this course.

Based on our readings, media, class activities, and discussions, during each two week unit I will post a set of questions on the class site. During each two-week unit, you will respond to these questions with a 1000 word response. The first group of Three Responses is due in class on the Thursday, the 25th of October.

Final Project:
With your second group of Three Responses, you will re-submit two edited responses from the first set. You will preface this collection of responses with a 400-word introduction. All final projects must be printed and deposited in my English department mailbox by Tuesday, 12 December, by 5 PM.

Your participation grade is based on your attendance in class, your involvement in discussions, and your thoughtful engagement with and respect for your fellow students.

Please note that late submissions will automatically be marked down an entire grade. Work submitted more than one wee after the due date will automatically be marked an F for that assignment

6 September – Introduction and Course Overview

11 SeptemberI Hate the Internet
Read Chapters One to Eleven – pages 1-85.

13 SeptemberI Hate the Internet
Read Chapters Twelve to Twenty – pages 86-166.

18 SeptemberI Hate the Internet
Read Chapters Twenty-One to End – pages 167-280.

In our readings and discussions of I Hate the Internet, we discussed numerous reasons why the book was, according to its author, a “bad novel”. For this reply, please: 1. Define what a “bad novel” is according to Kobek, and explain why he believes it is necessary to write one at this time; 2. Choose two textual aspects of the work that make it a “bad novel,” argue and describe how they function as part of the text; 3. Choose one contextual aspect of the work that makes it a “bad novel,” argue and describe how it contributes to the overall work. In conclusion, please reflect on how these textual and contextual aspects might impact the way we engage critically with other books we read.

20 SeptemberI Hate the Internet
Prepare Response #1 for in-class discussion and workshop.

25 SeptemberKindred
Read “Prologue,” “The River,” “The Fire,” and “The Fall” – pages 9-107.

Octavia Butler, in conversation with Charlie Rose: here.

27 SeptemberKindred
Read “The Fight” – pages 107-188.

**29 September**
Fred Moten at Concordia, a lecture and poetry reading: info here.

2 OctoberKindred
Read “The Storm,” “The Rope” and “Epilogue” – pages 189-264.

One of the most fascinating elements of Kindred that we discussed in class focused on the ways the characters related to one another. Their intimacy, mutual trust, and responsibility for one another often confronts or comes head-to-head with a sense of revulsion and the threat of – if not actual – violence. For this response, I want you to focus on the relationship between two characters – you choose which two. Select one scene from the book that portrays the sense of responsibility in their relationship, and a second scene that portrays the revulsion in it. Please describe in detail how Butler portrays the complexity of these relations and their affects. Following that, please reflect on how the additional element of “biological” time travel – between LA in the late 1970s, and Maryland in the early 19th century – deepens and adds further complexity to how these two characters confront and care for one another.

4 OctoberKindred
Prepare Response #2 for in-class discussion and workshop.

Schedule for meetings: Here.

9 October – No Class

11 October – Style and Form
Read “On Style” by Susan Sontag. HTML.

16 October – Fiction / Faction
Read excerpts from Criticism and Truth, by Roland Barthes. PDF.
Read Part II, pages 23-40. You will also find the “Preface to the English Language Edition” to be helpful for its framing.

18 October – Literary Production, Paratext, Genre
Read Chapter 2, “Categories for a Materialist Criticism” from Criticism and Ideology, by Terry Eagleton. PDF.
Look over Paratexts, by Gerard Genette. PDF.

23 October – Poetics and Criticism
Read “Not Your Noble Savage: On Literary Colonialism and Native Writers,” by Alicia Elliot.
Prepare Response #3.

Link to ENGL 241 LEXICON.

In our readings and discussions over these past two weeks, we have focused on questions of literary theory, criticism, and practices of reading, and we have begun to develop a lexicon of key terms to address these questions. For this response, I’d like you to reflect on what aspects of these readings and discussions you find useful, applicable in your own studies and lives. So, firstly, please discuss what you struck you as the most important elements of theory, criticism, and reading that came out of our readings and discussions. Then, two questions: How might you imagine integrating these lessons into your studies? How might you integrate them into your life outside of study? Finally, please integrate at least two or three terms from our lexicon with succinct definitions of what they mean in your replies.

25 October – First Three Responses Due.
Print and submit your first three responses in class.

30 OctoberThe Stone Face
Read Part One, pages 1-63.
Download a PDF of The Stone Face here.
Please come to class with any additional information you might find about the book or the author.

1 NovemberThe Stone Face
Read Part Two, pages 65-157.

6 NovemberThe Stone Face
Read Part Three, pages 159-213.

The three sections of The Stone Face are titled: “The Fugitive”; “The White Man”; and “The Brother.” Please outline the development of the character Simeon Brown with regard to these titles: How do these figurings refer to him? How do they refer to the development of his own understanding of his positionality in relation to others? How do specific scenes in each section exemplify these figurings? Please conclude this response with a discussion of what Gardner Smith’s cosmopolitan sensibility and articulation of comparative racial contexts has to offer us today.

8 NovemberThe Stone Face
Prepare Response #4 for in-class discussion and workshop.

13 NovemberLooking for Livingstone
Read pages 1-43. Download: Here.

15 NovemberLooking for Livingstone
Read pages 44-79. Download: Here.
Interview questions for M. NourbeSe Philip: Here.

20 NovemberLooking for Livingstone
In this class we will prepare our edition of the book for publication. Your assignment will be dependent upon the task of your specific editorial working group.

This response will be a shorter one than the others (400 words), due to the work that you all will be doing on the production of the book: Based on our discussions about the textual and contextual concerns of literary works throughout the semester, I want you to imagine and describe an edition of Looking for Livingstone that you would like to produce. In this imagined edition please describe: How has the text been edited from its original publication? What are the paratexts that you have included in the edition, and why have you selected those? What is the material form of the publication, how is it read, and how does it circulate? How does the edition’s materiality and mode of circulation relate to the content of the work?

22 NovemberLooking for Livingstone
Prepare Response #5 for in-class discussion and workshop.

Looking for Livingstone Manuscript Draft: Here.
Looking for Livingstone Workflow Document: Here.

27 NovemberDouble Teenage
Read Part One, pages 1-70.

29 NovemberDouble Teenage
Read Part Two and Three, pages 73-150.

2 December – ZUTIQUE Reading
Reading with Joni Murphy, Jesse Ruddock, Jacob Wren + Andrew Whiteman

4 DecemberDouble Teenage
Read Part Four, pages 153-197.
*CLASS VISIT: Joni Murphy*

Response Question 6:
In our discussions of Double Teenage, an important idea we came to was the “ambience of violence” that exists throughout the book. For this response, please select two passages of the book and analyze how Murphy constructs this “ambience of violence” in the narration and in its language. In doing so, please consider how this “ambience of violence” impacts the narration, and the lives of the two central characters, Celine and Julie.

5 DecemberDouble Teenage
Prepare Response #6 for in-class discussion and workshop.

For your final project, please include a 400-word introduction in which you state what have been the most important concepts and points for reflection that we’ve discussed in the class, and why. It will be especially useful for me to hear you introduce these concepts as they relate to what follows in your responses.

12 December – Final Project
Final Project is due on Tuesday, 12 December, by 5 PM.
Please deposit printed copy in my English department mailbox.