English 165

Special Topics: Narrating Absence: Not-Knowing in Literary Analysis


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2010 Clowes, Erika
Clowes, Erika
MW 4-5:30 103 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Eliot,  T.S.: The Waste Land; Beckett,  S.: Waiting for Godot; Ellison,  R.: Invisible Man; Faulkner,  W.: Sanctuary; James,  H.: The Turn of the Screw; Course Reader,  including Freud’s essay on fetishism, excerpts from Muller and Richardson’s The Purloined Poe, Nabokov’s “The Vane Sisters,” & D. F. Wallace’s “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.”

Films: Coppola,  F.F.: The Conversation (1974); Hitchcock,  A.: The Birds (1963)

Description

Critical reading usually involves reading “between the lines” of a literary text, picking up on the implications of its manifest content. In this course, however, we will focus on reading what is altogether missing: for example, the lack of a coherent narrator in Eliot’s Waste Land; the act of waiting for someone who never comes in Beckett’s Godot; or the literally unspeakable horror represented by birds in Hitchcock’s The Birds. Though the assigned texts come from several time periods, one of the primary goals of the course will be to understand why the explicit inclusion of ellipses and “unrepresentable” ideas is most characteristic of modernism. Does the nameless or “undomesticated” element serve to subvert the dominant culture, or, conversely, to define it? Do blank spaces unsettle narratives, or provide a harmonious “negative space”? How do they function in concert with other experimental techniques, such as stream-of-consciousness narration and fragmentation, from which seemingly nothing is excluded? Finally, we will consider the relationship of narrative absences to paranoia—both the characters’ and our own—as we attempt to impose meaning upon these non-signifying spaces.

This course is open to English majors only.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

fall, 2020

165/1

Special Topics: Law and Literature in the United States

spring, 2020

165/1

Special Topics: Elegy, Mourning, and the Representation of the Holocaust

165/2

Special Topics: Enlightenment & Romance: Scotland in the 18th Century

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Special Topics: On Lies, Lying, and Post-Truths--A Reading- and Writing-Intensive Investigation

Nadaff, Ramona

165/4

Special Topics: Family Histories from the Margins

fall, 2019

165/1

Special Topics: Utopian and (mostly) Dystopian Movies

165/2

Special Topics: The Pleasures of Allegory

spring, 2019

165/1

Special Topics: Global Tudors

Honig, Elizabeth

165/2

Special Topics: 21st-Century U. S. Poetry

165/3

Special Topics: John Milton's Last Poems

165/4

Special Topics: The Art of Writing: The Visible Made Verbal

165/5

Special Topics: Note: See English 165 section 6

165/6

Special Topics: Nabokov and Naipaul

165/7

Special Topics: The Materialist Epic

165/8

Special Topics: American Humor

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Special Topics: The 1890s

fall, 2018

165/1

Special Topics: Oscar Wilde and the Nineteenth Century

165/2

Special Topics: The English Department

165/3

Special Topics: Literature and Media Theory

165/4

Special Topics: The Ecology of Utopia

165/5

Special Topics: Reading Walden With Care

165/6

Special Topics: Hardly Strictly Lyric Poems

165/7

Special Topics: Utopian and (mostly) Dystopian Movies

spring, 2018

165/1

Special Topics: H.P. Lovecraft in His Tradition

165/2

Special Topics: Handel's Art in Setting English Words to Music

165/3

Special Topics: Is It Useless To Revolt?

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Special Topics: Neo-Slave Narratives

165/5

Special Topics: Incarcerations: The Literature of (Physical, Mental, Spiritual) Imprisonment


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