ENGLISH 208-01: TOPICS IN GLOBAL LITERATURE (3 CR.)
Instructor: Assistant Professor Christian Moraru
McIver 135: TR 8:00 AM-9:15 AM
Office: McIver 112
Office Hours: TR 11:00 AM- , and by appt.
Office Phone: (336) 334-3564
Dept. of English Phone: (336) 334-5311
Home Phone: (336) 834-9866
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This is a Topics in Global Literature course that deals specifically with the rise of what critics have identified as “global consciousness.” Thus, our course has a global focus twice. First, it has a worldly, crosscultural and transnational scope, covering as it does a range of literary and cultural traditions, both Western and nonwestern, which are represented by relevant fictional narratives, i.e., novels. Second, these works are very recent and speak to a growing feeling worldwide that we have entered a new age, the age of “time-space compression,” “network society,” and the “global village,” in which peoples, cultures, and communities around the world are more interconnected, more mobile, but also perhaps more vulnerable than ever before. Studied authors include Michel Houellebecq (French), Bharati-Mukherjee (Bengali-American), Andrei Codrescu (Romanian-American), Maryse Condé (West Indian-Guadalupean), David Malouf (Australian), Milan Kundera (Czech living in France), and Salman Rushdie (Indian living in the U.S). All texts are in English or in English translation.
FORMAT, EXPECTATIONS, AND LEARNING GOALS: This is not a survey course per se, but rather a thematic survey of contemporary fiction where the materials explored are lodged at the crossroads of the postcolonial, the transnational, and the postmodern. The approach will be cross-cultural and comparative in that we will see how these texts talk to each other across national, linguistic, geographic, and cultural divides and how, in doing so, they foreground the very notion of boundary. The course combines introductory lectures, class discussion, and group work.
At the completion of this course, the students will be able to identify and understand varied characteristics of literature in the “global age,” its main forms and topics. They will be able to apply techniques of literary analysis to the texts; use literary study to develop skills in careful reading and clear writing; demonstrate understanding of the diverse social and historical contexts in which literary texts have been written and interpreted. Also, the course is broad and foundational in nature; it does not assume extensive previous knowledge.
1. Examinations: There will be a midterm (65-min.) and a longer, final examination (both in-class). In all likelihood, the latter will be more comprehensive and consequently will carry more weight. We will prepare both carefully--the entire class is required to participate in the midterm and final review of the course, selection of topics, and rehearsals. We will talk about exam format and grading in larger detail before the midterm. See the exam schedule in the syllabus below.
2. Quizzes and Brief Responses: Occasionally, you will be given quizzes and brief in-class responses testing reading comprehension and requiring answers to questions we will find particularly relevant.
3. Attendance and Participation: Both are expected and will be reflected in the final grade (see below). I expect you to come to class with the assignments for the day completed and ready to participate orally, individually or in your group.
4. Group Activities: You will be assigned to groups of 4-5 members, which will complete various brief assignments. Usually, groups discuss a specific material or problem and then designate a member to report their conclusions back to the rest of the class. Reports will be oral and rather informal, about 10 minutes long, and their main role is to help us speed up debates. Group work will be graded, too. Students in one group will get the same grade regardless of who gives the presentation.
CONFERENCES: Please meet with me during my office hours or make an appointment to discuss your work or any aspect of the course. I plan to have at least one round of “formal” conferences during the semester. I urge you to make a first appointment early on to talk about the course and what you hope to accomplish in it.
1. Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of others’ materials both in form (wording) and substance (ideas). Any paper bearing your name signifies that you are the author, namely, that the words and the ideas are yours, with exceptions indicated by quotations marks and paraphrases. Evidence of plagiarism will result in one or more of the following: a failing grade for the assignment, an “F” for the whole course, and/or a report filed with the dean. Also, consult the UNCG policies on plagiarism.
2. Absences: You are allowed no more than 3 absences during the semester (which you must document afterwards), for illnesses, religious holidays, and emergencies preventing you from attending. Any unjustified absences will seriously affect your grade; 3 undocumented absences may result in your being asked to drop the course. If you are the victim of an emergency or serious illness, please stay in touch with me by e-mail or phone. Do not hesitate to call me at my home number. In addition, because tardiness disrupts class, too, be aware that coming in late 3 times will count as an absence.
GRADING: No incompletes. To pass the course, you must take the exams, come to class regularly, and participate in group work and discussion. The final grade breakdown is as follows:
Participation (including presentations, group work, quizzes and in-class responses) 20%
Please note the high percentage rewarding consistent and articulated class participation. Also, this is the instructor’s view of the final grade; on the first class, I would like to discuss these percentages with you and possibly make some adjustments depending on your input.
Bharati, Desirable Daughters.
Codrescu, Andrei. Messiah.
Maryse. I, Tituba,
Black Witch of
Rushdie, Salman. Fury.
Note: Do not purchase other editions.
Tue. Jan 14 Introduction to the course: goals, requirements, policies, and evaluation of student work.
Our class: the survey and the thematic focus. What is a “global topic”? Presenting the syllabus.
Thu. Jan 16 Mukherjee, Introduction
Desirable Daughters 1-42
Tue. Jan 21 Desirable Daughters 43-136
Thu. Jan 23 Desirable Daughters 137-210
Tue. Jan 28 Desirable Daughters 210-257
Thu. Jan 30 Desirable Daughters 258-310
Tue. Feb 4 Malouf, Introduction
Feb 6 Remembering
Feb 11 Remembering
Feb 13 Remembering
Tue. Feb 18 Houellebecq, Introduction
Thu. Feb 20 Whatever 51-95
Tue. Feb 25 Whatever 96-155
Thu. Feb 27 preparing the midterm examination (I): suggestions for exam topics due in class.
Note: Start reading the Codrescu novel and try to read as much as you can—before March 18.
Tue. Mar 4 Preparing the midterm examination (II)
Thu. Mar 6 Midterm examination (in-class)
Tue. Mar 11 Spring Break: no class
Thu. Mar 13 Spring Break: no class
Tue. Mar 18 Discussing the midterm
Codrescu, Introduction & Video
Thu. Mar 20 Messiah 103-200
Tue. Mar 25 Messiah 201-283
Thu. Mar 27 Messiah 284-366
Tue. Apr 1 Rushdie, Introduction and Video
Thu. Apr 3 Fury 95-160
Tue. Apr 8 Fury 161-259
Thu. Apr 10 Condé, Introduction
I, Tituba 1-73
Tue. Apr 15 I, Tituba 74-131
Thu. Apr 17 I, Tituba 132-179
Tue. Apr 22 Kundera, Introduction
Thu. Apr 24 Ignorance 64-132
Tue. Apr 29 Ignorance 132-195
Thu. May 1 Preparing the final examination (suggestions for the exam due in class) (I)
Tue. May 6 Last meeting
Preparing the final examination (II)
Tue. May 13, (McIver 135): Final examination
Note: I would like to think of this syllabus as final. However, I welcome your input, and we might be able to make some changes as we go along.