English 201A

Graduate Course: Topics in the Structure of the English Language: Syntax and the Language Arts

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2007 Banfield, Ann
Banfield, Ann
TTh 11-12:30 225 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Auerbach, Erich: Mimesis; Beckett, Samuel: Nohow On, How It Is; Beowulf, Seamus Heaney, translator, Ang & Eng [dual language edition]; Foley, John Miles: The Theory of Oral Composition: History and Methodology, Joyce, James: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Mansfield, Katherine: Stories (1956); McKeon, Michael: Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach, A Critical Anthology; Lord, Albert: A Singer of Tales; Pinker, Steven: Word and Object; Radford, Andrew: Transformational Grammar: A First Course; Woolf, Virginia: To the Lighthouse


This course will explore the relations between syntax and literary form. We will begin by acquainting ourselves with grammatical theory and argumentation and then consider hypotheses about the language of literature that they seem to open up, beginning with the ?oral formulaic theory? of the epic, then turning to the syntax of time and point of view in the novel, specifically, represented speech and thought (?free indirect style?). This will lead to a contrast between the genres epic and novel. We will then consider recent theories of the lexicon as they suggest ways to analyze Samuel Beckett?s late style. Beckett?s ?revolution of the syntax? will be compared with Joyce?s ?revolution of the word? in Finnegans Wake. This will also raise the question of the nature of prose. What I hope will emerge in the course of the semester is how many interesting research projects can be defined starting from certain conclusions of syntactic theory and how few of them have been actually undertaken. No prior background in linguistics will be assumed.

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