Instructor: Paco Brito
This class is about texts that want to take in entire worlds. It’s about stories, novels, and poems that aspire to the comprehensiveness of encyclopedias. This ambition gives them a strange, hybrid quality: the way that they catalog and communicate vast quantities of information often makes them seem more like non-literary texts than what we traditionally think of as literature. They will allow us to think about the often-complicated relationship between fiction and non-fiction, to consider the many ways in which texts connect both to the “real world” and to one another, and to reflect on what it means to read literature at a time when seemingly everything worth knowing is instantly available on the Internet.
First and foremost, however, this is a writing course. It will be focused on the process of writing–on the many choices, simple and sophisticated, that go into communicating an interpretation of a literary text to a reader.
Texts will include:
–The Collected Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges
–Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
–The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
–The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot
–Sans Soleil by Chris Marker
The course reader will feature selections from the work of François Rabelais, Herman Melville, Gertrude Stein, Thomas Pynchon, and Helen DeWitt; short fiction by Vladimir Nabokov, Donald Barthelme, Italo Calvino, Roberto Bolaño, Lydia Davis, and Charles Stross; and poetry by Marianne Moore, César Vallejo, Bertolt Brecht, Pablo Neruda, Elizabeth Bishop, and Anne Carson.
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