English 144: World Literature in English

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English 144.1 World Literature in English

Instructor: Mr. Watt Email: ude.ssamu.hsilgne|ttawmit#ude.ssamu.hsilgne|ttawmit
Meeting Times: M/W/F 10:10-11:00 Office: Bartlett 462
Class Location: Bartlett 207 Office Hrs: M/W 9-10 & by appointment

Course Description Who owns a language, if anyone, and how is it owned, if it is owned? I don’t know. But let’s move to this: To promote language to literature one must learn a language from the inside out; one must learn its rules, its structures, its clear aspects, its elusive aspects. To then make that language one’s own is what all of the writers chosen for this course have done. That is why they are worth studying. For some of these writers, English is clearly the language of the Empire—the colonizer—co-opted and refashioned into a response commensurate with the intensities of their experience. For other writers, English is and is not their first language. It is their first language in so far as they have no other first language. It is the language of their birth, their living, their dying. It is not their first language in so far as they are not English. They are English speakers. This is true of us as well. But then, if one takes a long enough view, far enough back in time, one will see that for the English, English is and is not their first language…And then, on the verge of a catastrophic headache, one begins to suspect that maybe the idea of a first language, and of an authentic, original relationship to language is very temporally bound, and always provisional.
In this course, we will study literature written in English by writers of countries other than England and the United States. These will include writers from very near relative countries, like Canada, South Africa, and Ireland, and writers from countries whose relationship to English is more complicated to say the least – Antigua, India, Nigeria. 5 of the required texts are short novels. 1 of the required texts is a collection of stories; 1 is a sui generis species of geographical autobiography. There are also two films. All of the texts chosen for this course share a few things in common: They are very notable for voice, for tone, and for motive. The voice is the sound of the story told; the tone is the mood of the telling; the motive is the story’s necessary reason(s) – personal, poetic, political and otherwise.

Required Texts:
Books (Available at Amherst Books, 8 Main Street)
Waiting for the Barbarians, J.M. Coetzee
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
The Joys of Motherhood, Buchi Emecheta
A Pale View of Hills, Kazuo Ishiguro
A Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid
Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie
The Hill Bachelors, William Trevor
Monsoon Wedding
Hotel Rwanda
“The Boat,” Alistair MacLeod

SPARK: There will be a SPARK site for this course. This syllabus and all assignments will be available on the SPARK page. If you have difficulty getting into SPARK, please let me know.

Course Requirements

You are allowed 5 absences no questions asked for this class. Each absence beyond those two will lower your final participation grade one full grade; if you have 8 or more absences—in other words, if you miss 20% or more of the class—you will fail the class. If you have an emergency – and there are many interpretations of what constitutes an emergency, and many great fables thereof – you need to contact me immediately. I have little interest in discussing whether or not you will or will not be in class. I have great interest in you being in class. Thus, I will take attendance at the beginning of every class.

You will do three things in this class – read, write, converse. These activities are mutually sustaining. In other words, each activity benefits the other activities, immeasurably. To this end:
Homework: The bulk of your daily homework will consist of reading the assigned texts. I will assign the reading at the end of each class. The amount of reading assigned will vary from class to class and week to week, but all of the books are short, intentionally so: I want us to be reading slowly and carefully with our ears alive to the music of the sentences, our hearts alive to the stories being told, and our minds alive to the ways in which these stories are being told. You will also watch two films, one in class, and one out of class. The film you watch out of class will take the place of your reading homework.
Discussion: You will come to class—from near, from far—with your books, your questions, comments, frustration, enthusiasm, anger, befuddlement, insight, and an abiding willingness to share what you’re thinking. Sharing is essential. 10% of your final grade will be based upon your class discussion.
Reading Journal: Each of you will keep a reading journal. This journal you will bring to every class. Every Monday you will spend the first fifteen minutes of class responding to the assigned reading. These responses will be the catalysts for that day’s discussions. This response may take a variety of forms – creative, critical, and otherwise. Additionally, you will choose 3 of the books and/or films and respond to them in a similar, but more sustained fashion. The reading journal is yours, and thus should reflect your readerly and writerly experience of the texts. 15% of your final grade will be based upon your Reading Journal.
Performance Group: During the second or third week of class you will each be assigned to a performance group that will create a 15-minute performative response to one of the assigned works. These should not be dramatic adaptations, but rather an interaction or conversation with the text(s). We will go over this assignment in class; more detailed instructions will be provided at that time. 10% of your final grade will be based upon your performance group work.
There will be a short (2-3 page) paper due on Friday, October 9th.
There will be an in-class midterm on Friday, November 13th.
There will be a longer final paper due in class on Friday, December 11th, the last day of class.

Late Work
All assignments are due on the dates listed on the syllabus. If you are absent on the day of your performance group, you will receive a “0” for the assignment. Additionally, I will find such an absence particularly unbecoming. If you are absent on the day of the midterm, you will only be able to make it up if you have contacted me before class and have a sufficient reason for your absence. The papers must be handed in on time. Beginning your papers earlier rather than later is the right strategy. The reading journals will be collected 3 times over the course of the semester. These must be handed in on the appointed dates (this is another reason why they must be brought to every class).

I will give unannounced reading quizzes. These grades will be part of your discussion grade, and thus, of your final grade.
Detailed assignments for all of the following will be handed out later in the semester.
All assignments are subject to change.

A Summary of Rules

- Read the assigned work.
- Attend class.
- Bring your book and your reading journal to every class. Note: This is not a suggestion; it is a requirement.
- Be on time to class.
- Turn off Cell Phones, beepers, ipods, computers, etc…
- Be ready to participate. This means you have done the reading, thought about the reading, are awake, and are both brave and humble enough to risk your thinking aloud, repeatedly.
- Hand in all assignments when they are due.

Participation 35%
Discussion 10%
Reading Journal 15%
Performance 10%
Paper 1 20%
Midterm 20%
Paper 2 25%

Total = 100%

Class Schedule

September November
Wednesday, Sep 9 – Introductions, Syllabus (Mon) 2 – A Small Place

(Fri) 11 – Heart of Darkness (Wed) 4 – A Small Place

(Mon) 14 – Heart of Darkness (Fri) 6 – A Small Place

(Wed) 16 – Heart of Darkness (Mon) 9 – A Small Place

(Fri) 18 – Heart of Darkness (Wed) 11 – No Class

(Mon) 21 – Heart of Darkness (Fri) 13 - Midterm

(Wed) 23 – Heart of Darkness (Mon) 16 – The Joys of Motherhood
(Fri) 25 – Waiting for the Barbarians (Wed) 18 – The Joys of Motherhood

(Mon) 28 – Waiting for the Barbarians (Fri) 20 – The Joys of Motherhood

(Wed) 30 – Waiting for the Barbarians (Mon) 23 – The Joys of Motherhood

October (Wed) 25 – A Pale View of Hills
(Fri) 2 – Waiting for the Barbarians (and HofD)
(Fri) 27 – No Class
(Mon) 5 – Waiting for the Barbarians (and HofD)
(Mon) 30 – A Pale View of Hills
(Wed) 7 – Waiting for the Barbarians (and HofD)
(Fri) 9 – First Paper due, “The Boat” (Wed) 2 – A Pale View of Hills

(Mon) 12 – No Class (Fri) 4 – The Hill Bachelors

(Tues) 13 – Monsoon Wedding, Class on Tuesday (Mon) 7 – The Hill Bachelors

(Wed) 14 – Monsoon Wedding (Wed) 9 - The Hill Bachelors

(Fri) 16 – Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Fri) 11 – Last Class, Final Papers Due

(Mon) 19 – Haroun and the Sea of Stories

(Wed) 21 – Haroun and the Sea of Stories

(Fri) 23 – Haroun and the Sea of Stories

(Mon) 26 – Haroun and the Sea of Stories

(Wed) 28 – Haroun and the Sea of Stories & Monsoon Wedding

(Fri) 30 – A Small Place

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