BERKELEY ENGLISH SUMMER 2021

English 190

Research Seminar: William Faulkner’s Temporalities


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2020 Hale, Dorothy J.
MW 12-1:30 305 Wheeler

Description

Jean-Paul Sartre has famously compared Faulkner’s sense of time to “a man sitting in a convertible and looking back.”  From this perspective, Sartre contends, the only view is that of the past, made “hard, clear and immutable” in its isolation. Yet if Faulkner writes with a gaze fixed on the Southern past, his historical consciousness has been shaped by the experience of time in the modern moment—an idea Sartre nicely conveys through the figure of the convertible ride.

This seminar explores the complex registers of time in three Faulkner novels: The Sound and the Fury; Light in August; and Absalom, Absalom! Special attention will be given to the relationship between the social experience of time represented in Faulkner’s storyworlds and the narrative temporality of each novel. To gain a better sense of the literary models that influenced Faulkner, we will situate Faulkner’s work in relation to Jean Toomer’s Cane and the Overture from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. Fiction and essays by Toni Morrison will allow us to chart Faulkner’s legacy.

A course reader available at Copy Central includes essays by thinkers who helped to shape the modernist understanding of time as well as literary critical and theoretical works that will help us understand Faulkner’s narrative practice. 

Students will be guided through the planning and execution of a fifteen-page research paper, due at the end of the term.

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