English 100

Junior Seminar: Ventriloquism and the Novel

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Fall 2005 Miller, D. A.
TTh 11-12:30 79 Dwinelle
Other Readings and Media

Austen, J.: Emma; Flaubert, G.: Madame Bovary; James, H.: The Portrait of a Lady; Zola, E.: L'Assommoir; course reader


Our topic is the curious relation of identification-and-dissociation between a novel's implied author and its given protagonist. We will concentrate on specific formal features that structure this relation: narration, focalization, and, most important, free indirect discourse, the technique by which the novel represents a character's thoughts in the third person past tense. In all the landmark cases of FID in the Novel, moreover, the authorial voice is being thrown not simply from one formal position to another--from narration to character--but also from one social status to another--from male to female, bourgeois to worker, single to married, writer to failed writer. It is the argument of the course that FID typically bespeaks a social relation along with the formal, literary one. We will read four examples of FID, all of which are particularly strong examples of such social ventriloquism: Jane Austen, Emma; Flaubert, Madame Bovary, Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady, and Emile Zola, L'Assommoir. If time remains, we will also try to identify the structure of free indirect discourse in film. (Examples, Claude Chabrol, L'Oeil de Vichy [The Eye of Vichy] and Federico Fellini, 8 1/2.) Course reader will include works by Banfield, Barthes, Bourdieu, Cohn, Genette, Sartre, Woloch.

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