English 355, British Fiction after 1900                                MWF 8 am
Professor Suzanne Keen                                                         Payne 110
skeen@wlu.edu                                                                       458-8759
Office hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 8-9 am
Extra hours (MWF) will be added before paper due dates.

London Fiction

Reaching from the bowels of the London underground to the towers of Britain’s financial district, the reading reveals the variety and inventiveness of  c20 fiction about the city of London. The war years, especially the Blitz experience, are witnessed and recalled; the ethnic diversity of a multicultural city is celebrated; the neighborhoods and margins serve as locations; and the recent financial crisis is anatomized. The course emphasizes acquisition of critical vocabulary for the analysis of narrative technique

Components of the grade.

20% participation and attendance: participation matters most, but excessive absences result in failure no matter how well you do when you are there.
Option A:      30% paper #1: 7-8 pages, 2100-2400 words
                        30% paper #2: 7-8 pages, 2100-2400 words
Option B:      60% paper: 16-20 pages, 4800-6000 words
20% objective final examination. A grade of 59 or less earns the course grade of E.

Required Texts. Do not buy alternate editions.

Monica Ali, Brick Lane (Scribner.ISBN-13: 978-0743243315)
Elizabeth Bowen, The Heat of the Day (Anchor. ISBN-13: 978-0385721288)
Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (Oxford. ISBN-13: 978-0199536351)
Sebastian Faulks, A Week in December (Vintage.ISBN-13: 978-0307476623)
Penelope Fitzgerald, Offshore (Mariner Books. ISBN 13: 978-0395478042)
Ian McEwan, Saturday (Anchor. ISBN-13: 978-1400076192)
Suzanne Keen, Narrative Form (Palgrave Macmillan.ISBN-13: 978-0333960974)
Hanif Kureishi, Gabriel’s Gift (Scribner. ISBN-13: 978-0743217132)
Alan Moore, From Hell (Top Shelf Productions. ISBN-13: 978-0958578349)
Zadie Smith, NW (Penguin.ISBN-13: 978-1594203978)
Sarah Waters, The Night Watch (Riverhead.ISBN-13: 978-1594482304)
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (Mariner. ISBN-13: 978-0156030359)

Suzanne Keen, Narrative Form (Palgrave. ISBN: 0333960971). Images of the London Blitz.

20%             participation in discussion
30%             8-10 page paper (2500- 3000 words) optionA
30%             8-10 page paper (2500-3000 words)
or 60% 16-20 page paper (with permission) option B
20%             final examination

Departmental Curricular Objectives:

Students in English will learn how to

1. write clear, persuasive analytical essays driven by arguments about texts;
2. read closely, recognizing subtle and complex differences in language use;
3. seek out further knowledge about literary works, authors, and contexts, and document research appropriately, adhering to the highest standards of intellectual honesty;
4. broaden the range of literary texts and performances from which they can derive pleasure and edification.

Previous Versions of the Course

This course of readings in contemporary British fiction emphasizes the narrative experimentation that has been a striking feature of contemporary fiction since the 1970s. How that experimentation, especially with genres, accompanies fictive meditations on past, present, and future will be our central subject. Novels in a variety of genres by major writers will provide the primary texts for discussion. The course will include a detailed introduction to the vocabulary for analyzing narrative technique, including narrative situation (narrators and points of view); levels, frames, and embedding; orderly and anachronous narration; pace and timing; beginnings and closure; the modes for representation of fictional consciousness; narrative unreliability; characterization; and theories of plot. The course features a focused study of the fiction of David Mitchell. Broader topics for discussion include contemporary genres, postmodernity; the uses of the past and the historical turn; utopias and dystopias; and the representation of otherness.

Required Texts:

Margaret Atwood, A Handmaid's Tale
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child
Ian McEwan, Atonement
David Mitchell, Ghostwritten
David Mitchell, The Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell, Black Swan Green
David Mitchell, Number 9 Dream
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four


The Moderns according to the Contemporaries

“The modernists were giants, monsters of nature who loomed so large that contemporaries could only gape at them in awe.” —Lawrence Rainey

In recent years contemporary authors have turned to their earlier twentieth-century predecessors for inspiration and aggravation. While it is a commonplace of postcolonial literary criticism to notice the vigorous revising of canonical Victorian texts by postcolonial contemporary writers (Jean Rhys taking on Charlotte Brontë, for instance), less often do we study how British writers re-examine their immediate literary heritage. This course pairs Ian McEwan with Elizabeth Bowen, Zadie Smith and Merchant-Ivory (British filmmakers) with E. M. Forster, Michael Cunningham (an American) with Virginia Woolf, Alan Hollinghurst and Colm Toibin with Henry James, and Angela Carter with the little known modernist novelists Mary Butts. (We could go on, if we had a longer time together, to juxtapose H. G. Wells and Martin Amis, T. S. Eliot and Jeanette Winterson, Ford Madox Ford and Kazuo Ishiguro, James Joyce and Anthony Burgess, Thomas Hardy and Rohinton Mistry. W. B. Yeats and Chinua Achebe. But we will limit ourselves to a shorter list.) A close study of narrative techniques will accompany the course readings.

Elizabeth Bowen, The Heat of the Day (1949)
Mary Butts, The Death of Felicity Taverner (1932) in The Taverner Novels
Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber (1979)
Michael Cunningham, The Hours (1998)
E. M. Forster, Howards End (1910)
Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty (2004)
Henry James, The Ambassadors (1903)
Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001)
Zadie Smith, On Beauty (2005)
Colm Toibin, The Master (2004)
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

Suzanne Keen, Narrative Form

Film adaptations

Howards End
The Hours
Mrs. Dalloway

Previous versions of the course:

Modern British Fiction

The course offers a chronological reading of modern British and Irish fiction from the 1890s to 1953. Novels and short stories by major writers will provide the primary texts for discussion. The course will include a detailed introduction to the vocabulary for analyzing narrative technique, including narrative situation (narrators and points of view); levels, frames, and embedding; orderly and anachronous narration; pace and timing; beginnings and closure; the modes for representation of fictional consciousness; narrative unreliability; characterization; and theories of plot. Broader topics for discussion include modernist experimentation; reactions to modernity (including the two world wars); representations of Empire, social class, gender, and sexuality; high-brow and middle-brow literature; commerce, advertising, and the material conditions of authorship.

Fictions of Empire, Ed. John Kucich (Houghton Mifflin, New Riverside Edition) includes Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, and R. L. Stevenson, The Beach of Falesa
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Fiction, Ed. RWB Lewis (Bantam)
H. G. Wells, Tono-Bungay (Oxford)
E. M. Forster, Howards End (Penguin)
James Joyce, Dubliners, ed. Robert Scholes and A. Walton Litz
Katherine Mansfield, Stories
D H. Lawrence, Selected Short Stories
Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Elizabeth Bowen, The House in Paris
Ivy Compton-Burnett, Manservant and Maidservant
Mary Butts, The Taverner Novels
L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between

Brian Richardson, Narrative Dynamics: Essays on Time, Plot, Closure, and Frames

Modern British Fiction

A chronological reading of modern British (and Irish) fiction from 1902 to 1947. We will study major authors, canonical texts and popular novels that have stood the test the time.  Topics include modernist experimentation; reactions to modernity (including the two world wars); representations of Empire, social class, and gender; and metropolitan and provincial fiction. The course includes a detailed introduction to the vocabulary of narrative technique.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 4th ed., Joseph Gibaldi

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness  (1902)
H. G. Wells, Tono-Bungay (1909)

E. M. Forster, Howards End  (1910)

James Joyce, Dubliners (1914)

D. H. Lawrence, stories from The Prussian Officer (1914)

Katherine Mansfield, Stories (1918-22)

Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915)

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm (1932)

Elizabeth Bowen, The Collected Stories (1920s-1940s)

Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca  (1938)

Rumer Godden, Black Narcissus  (1939)

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited  (1945)

Ivy Compton-Burnett, Manservant and Maidservant  (1947)

Modern British Fiction

In this course we study major modern fiction of the first part of the twentieth century, with a focus on innovations in style and substance by six modern writers of short fiction and novels: Elizabeth Bowen, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf. The study of the art of the modern short story will comprise a significant component of the course. The vocabulary and analytical techniques of narrative theory will be emphasized in lectures; discussions of a range of theoretical and critical terms will accompany our study of modern fiction.

Shannon Clark reading: Seamus Deane, Reading in the Dark. This contemporary Irish novel will be the second text we read in the course. You will have an opportunity to hear and converse with Seamus Deane at the Skylark retreat, Oct. 1998.

Elizabeth Bowen, The House in Paris
—, from The Collected Stories

Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes

—, Heart of Darkness

James Joyce, Dubliners

Rudyard Kipling, The Man Who Would Be King

—, The Jungle Book

D. H. Lawrence, Kangaroo

—, Selected Short Stories

Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts

 —, Monday or Tuesday

•Kershner, R.B. The Twentieth-Century Novel.
•Lentricchia, Frank and Thomas Mclaughlin, Critical Terms for Literary Study, 2nd ed. Essays in order of reading:

•Murfin, Ross, ed. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism.*postcolonial group will read article by Chinua Achebe (handout).

English 355 Modern British Fiction

In this course we study the major modernist novelists of the first part of the twentieth century (Conrad, Joyce, Lawrence, and Woolf), with a focus on innovations in style and substance by these writers and others: Katherine Mansfield, Ford Madox Ford, E. M. Forster, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Bowen, and Evelyn Waugh. Topics include: The Bloomsbury Group; the social consequences of war; bildungsroman; the supposed “reaction against experiment”; and the critique of Empire (including texts by Conrad, Forster, and Graham Greene). Two “Angry Young Men” (Amis, Sillitoe) and Iris Murdoch represent the 1950s, as we reach the years of the Suez Crisis and the transition to the contemporary period. Throughout the course the vocabulary and analytical techniques of narrative theory will be emphasized.

Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim
Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart

Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier

E. M. Forster, A Passage to India

Graham Greene, The Heart of the Matter

James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love

Katherine Mansfield, "The Life of Ma Parker"

Iris Murdoch, The Bell

Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night & Sunday Morning

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Shlomith Rimmon Kenan, Narrative Fiction: contemporary poetics

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