Office: McIver 136A
Office hours: TTH: 2:00-3:00 or by appointment
Introduction to Narrative
“If you don’t care for obscenity, you don’t care for the
truth; if you don’t care for the truth, watch how you vote.”
From The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
An introduction to narrative is an introduction to the art of storytelling. Why are certain stories told in certain styles and how does a story’s style (form) reflect its message? In other words, how does form inform content? This is the fundamental question of the course. Beyond this, I want you to keep in mind, at all times the following three levels of analysis:
1. Structure. How is a story put together by authorial choices, beginning
on the level of phrase all the way up to the overall organization of the book,
micro-issues to macro-issues.
2. Effect. Does the author entertain us or doesn’t he? On the level of entertainment, is this a good book? How do our expectations play into this question?
3. Personal resource. How does this story help the reader achieve a sense of awareness, social consciousness, personal growth, or an appreciation for the subtleties of language? Why are these stories important? And why is the idea of story important to our understanding of ourselves?
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Brief Interviews With Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace
Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson
Please purchase bookstore editions so we can all be on the same page.
Final exam: 20%
You will hand in two papers throughout the course of the semester. Each should be between 3-5 pages.
Participation involves three major sub-categories: Daily questions, quizzes, and discussion. For every class you should bring in at least one question drawn specifically from the reading. These questions should be typed and I will collect them at the beginning of every class. If you don’t have a question, you’re absent.
Generally, I will announce if there is going to be a quiz, but if we’ve had one of those classes where no one has done the reading, it’s a pretty safe bet that the next class will open with a quiz. As far as class discussion goes, if you come to me in advance with concerns about speaking in public, we can arrange an alternative program of writing assignments. Otherwise I expect regular contributions.
Midway through the course I will give you a list of questions from which you can begin to develop arguments. From this list I’ll choose three for an in-class blue-book exam.
Two absences allowed. Each additional absence equals ten points off your final grade. Only University activities will count as excused.
See student handbook.
The Writing Center is located in McIver. It is open Monday-Thursday 9:00-8:00, Friday 9:00-3:00, and Sundays 6:00-9:00 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling 334-3125. There are consultants there who will answer questions you may have about rhetoric, grammar, syntax, etc. However, they are not there merely to proofread.
8/18-E-Reserve story: Hills Like White Elephants. E-Reserve essay: Belief and Technique for Modern Prose.
8/23-The Things They Carried, 1-26, E-Reserve essay: Bobbie Ann Mason on The Things They Carried.
9/15-One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest-1-41
10/13-MOVIE First Paper Due
11/3-E-Reserve Story: Lust, E-Reserve Story: Boys
11/8-Brief Interviews with Hideous Men-0-13
12/1-Brief-241-271 Second Paper Due
12/6-Final Comments, Exam Review