Introduction to Fiction (Honors)

L204 — Spring 2018

Ballantine Hall 015
Days and Times
1:00-2:15 TR Lecture
Course Description

Topic: Introduction to Fiction: Secrets and Lies, Fiction as a literary mode has always had a close relationship with secrets, lies, and deceit. Some of the early historical definitions of 'fiction' include: "Feigning, counterfeiting; deceit, dissimulation, pretence." Was literary fiction history's first "Fake News"? This course offers an introduction to literary fiction through a focus on secrets and lies: secrets of identity; sexual secrets; spies and frauds. Although I haven't made the final decisions on readings, we'll likely organize the semester around the categories "Gothic Secrets of Identity" (Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Veil"); "Secrets of Identity" (Henry James's "The Figure in the Carpet"; Nella Larsen's Harlem Renaissance novel Passing; Danzy Senna's 1998 novel Caucasia; Jhumpa Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies"); "Spies and Frauds" (Patricia Highsmith's the Talented Mr Ripley; Graham Greene's the Quiet American); and "Erotic Secrets" (Ian McEwan's 2001 novel Atonement). Together we'll explore and analyze the ways fiction often seems to turn, for some of its most powerful and engaging effects, to secrets and lies, deceit and dissimulation, liars and spies. As an Intensive Writing course, the class will involve quite a lot of writing in the form of three formal papers (at least one of which must be revised) and more informal writing responses. Other requirements/expectations will include: dedicated class participation; no exams, but reading quizzes as needed. Instructor: Ivan Kreilkamp

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