English 165

Special Topics: Nabokov and Naipaul

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2019 Hass, Robert L.
Danner, Mark
TTh 3:30-5 note new location: 241 Cory


This is a team-taught course on two of the most controversial novelists of the 20th century and—some critics think—two of the greatest. Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) was a Russian emigre who wrote novels in both Russian and English, was thought of as extending the art novel of the twentieth century as practiced by Joyce and Proust, and was notorious for having written Lolita, the story of a middle-aged European professor who kidnaps and sexually exploits an American teenager. V. S. Naipaul (1932-2018) was born in Trinidad to an Indian family, received a British colonial education there, moved to England to go to the university, and wrote novels and non-fiction that examined the politics of colonialism and the postcolonial world for which he received the Nobel prize in 2001.

This class, which will be team-taught by Professors Robert Hass and Mark Danner, is an effort to look at two of the main directions taken by the novel in the twentieth century.

Course work: two short papers, one long one or a final, and some journalling. 

Texts may include Nabokov's Lolita, Pale Fire, The Defense, The Gift, Bend SinisterInvitation to a Beheading, Ada, and Speak Memory, and Naipaul's Miguel Street, A House for Mr Biswas, In a Free State, A Bend in the River, GuerrillasThe Enigma of Arrival, and The Writer and the World.

Note that this course was originally set up as two separate sections of English 165 on the same topic, but on October 16 we canceled 165 section 5—and doubled the size of this section 6 (and moved it to a larger classroom) instead.

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