English 165

Special Topics: Fathers and Sons

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2015 Isenberg, Steven
Isenberg, Steven
TTh 2-3:30 206 Wheeler

Book List

Ackerley, J. R.: My Father and Myself; Amis, Martin: Experience; Buckley, Christopher: Losing Mum and Pup; Gosse, Edmund: Father and Son; Miller, Arthur: Death of a Salesman; Morrison, Blake: And When Did You Last See Your Father?; Roth, Philip: Patrimony; Turgenev, Ivan: Fathers and Sons; Waugh, Alexander: Fathers and Sons; Wolff, Tobias: A Boy's Life


We will explore the burdens and blessings, affections and alienation of the father-son relationship through the novels, memoirs, autobiographies, and a play by American, British, and Russian writers.

Their works take us to how sons look back on the ways and means of how they achieved their course and identity, and the centrality of their father. In doing so, matters of married life, family structure and dynamics, religious belief, politics, sexuality, professional careers, and education all come to the fore.

At the center of our readings, from childhood to the death of the father, are some of the strongest forces that shape lives and destinies, and reveal the deepest emotions, and these memories, deliberations, testimony and imaginings have given us compelling literature.

There will be four six- to eight-page essays required, which will comprise 80% of the class grade. 20% will take into account class participation. There will be no final exam.


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