Are contemporaries able to recognize a “masterpiece?”
How often does literary fiction achieve best-seller status?
What distinguishes literary fiction from commodity fiction?
We will meet three afternoons a week, and students will write four short (2-5
page) papers, one about each of the four novels we will read and discuss. In
addition, each student will select a related topic to research and present to
the class. For instance, one student might look up what was on the best-
seller lists when a novel that has entered the literary canon of ‘great works’
was first published. Another student might seek out reviews of best-selling
novels from another decade or another century to see if any were proclaimed
important works of literature and whether we agree with that judgment now.
Estimated Student Fees: Students will have to purchase four newly published
After Apartheid: South Africa
David Smith, Sandra Sprayberry
Max. Enrollment: 22
Meeting Times: TBD, On campus 1 week (Jan. 6-10); in-country 2 weeks
What better place to study human rights issues than in South Africa?
Traveling to Cape Town and Johannesburg and their townships, we will study
what Nelson Mandela called the “long walk to freedom” from apartheid, and,
in particular, the reconciliation efforts afterwards and the current state of
affairs in South Africa. Our focus will be on this very serious topic, with an
excursion to Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned, and with a few
days in Johannesburg, where the Apartheid Museum is located, and in the
Jo’burg township of Soweto. We will also view, via safari, the wildlife in Kruger
National Park. During the first week of the term, students will be expected to
attend and fully participate in instructional meetings here at BSC, but the bulk
of study will be during a minimum of two weeks on-site and will consist of
traditional and experiential modes of learning. While in the Cape Town area,
students will attend university lectures on South African history, politics,
and culture, will tour historical sites, will stay overnight with local people in
their homes, and will participate in service projects in the townships. Cape
Town was the site of the June 2010World Cup, and we will explore this
now-popular travel destination within its human rights contexts. Interested
students should contact Drs. Smith and Sprayberry as soon as possible.
A recommended/required reading and viewing list will be distributed prior
to January and will consist of LeonardThompson’s A History of South
Africa, an autobiographical-historical account of the TRC, Archbishop
Desmond Tutu’s No Future Without Forgiveness, a play about apartheid-
era race relations, Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold . . . and the Boys,” and
various film and media.
Evaluation will be based on attendance at and active participation in
on-campus instructional meetings (which will include quizzes and writing
assignments and reading discussions) and on-site lectures and events.
Estimated Student Fees: $6000 (still in negotiation); a $400 deposit is
required to reserve a place.
Jane Austen: The Novels and the Films
EH 102 or EH 208
Max. Enrollment: 20
Meeting Times: Tu WTh F 9:00am-12:00pm; some afternoons
The novels of Jane Austen have continued to be popular two centuries
after she wrote them and in a world she would hardly recognize. Part of
their attraction is the love story, of course. But part is the way in which her
characters and their situations seem to transcend time, space, and culture.
The films based on these novels are the best indication of how adaptable
Austen can be, for they reflect their own time as much as they reflect hers.
We will look at Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice together in depth,
and subgroups will work individually on other novels and films: Sense
and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion. Evaluation will be based on group
presentations, class participation, and a final examination.
Nabokov, Borges, and Imaginative Realism
Max. Enrollment: 16
Meeting Times: M Tu W 9:00am-12:00pm
The course will explore the work of Vladimir Nabokov and Jorge Luis Borges,
with a focus on (1) the authors’ presentation of the independent reality of
apparently imagined objects (artistic and otherwise) and (2) the role of the
imagination in providing insight into a reality that is apparently not imagined.
Nabokov texts will include the novel
Invitation to a Beheading
, the novella
, some short stories, and possibly some excerpts from the
memoir Speak, Memory. The Borges will include works from the collections
Labyrinths and Ficciones, including “The Library of Babel,” “Three Versions
of Judas,” “The Circular Ruins,” “The Garden of Forking Paths,” “Funes the
Memorious,” “An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain,” “Tlön, Uqbar,
Orbis Tertius,” and “The South,” among other short fictions. Russian and
Spanish texts will be in English translation. Assessment will be based on
quizzes, class participation, one short essay, and one longer essay.
Novels Right Now: Commodities or Future Masterpieces
Max. Enrollment: 25
M TuTh F 1:00pm-3:00pm
In this project, we will read four very recent novels that have appeared on the
best-seller lists and have also achieved at least some literary acclaim. In class
meetings, we will discuss the novels, but we will also consider what makes
books popular and what makes them “literature.” We will explore best-
seller lists from the past, as well as past winners of literary awards. We will
consider questions such as these: