ENGL789 - Form and Theory in Fiction. Narrative Forms: The Fact in Fiction
Syllabus:
Section(s):
0101 - Maud Casey

This is a craft class in fiction whose organizing theme will be fictional narratives (novels, stories, and hybrid narratives) in conversation with history.  This is not a class about historical fiction per se; rather, it is an opportunity to consider the effects that result when a fictive narrative reaches outside itself to include documentary elements, whether it be fragments of an actual book on evolution and geology taped to a character’s wall as he slowly fades from consciousness as in Max Frisch’s Man in the Holocene, or the meditations on the introduction of silkworm cultivation in Europe and the use of photography in W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn.  Among the questions we’ll consider:  What is the effect of the juxtaposition of the so-called real and fiction?  What happens at the intersection of fact and fiction?  What is the value of the imagination in relation to historical material?  What is the effect when a fictional narrative includes photographs?  With each of the books we read, we’ll consider these questions and others while also studying the world each of these books creates and the formal elements its author uses to fashion that world.  Paying particular attention to how a narrative is built—considering it from the perspective of making art, as in building a world out of language—is essential in this class. The reading list will include Max Frisch, Aleksandar Hemon, Kathryn Davis, Monique Truong, Paisley Rekdal, W.G. Sebald, and others. Requirements include weekly response papers, one class presentation, and a final project.