Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 79 Dwinelle
Current Graduate Students
Marianne Kaletzky and Emily Laskin
Fandom gets a bad name in the academic world. Literary scholars pride themselves on their analytical approach to, and critical distance from, works already recognized as high art. Fans, on the other hand, throw themselves into the least esteemed genres and forms.
Yet scholarship can’t entirely shake its ties to fandom. The history of the Western novel begins with a fan, Don Quixote, who devotes his life to the seventeenth-century equivalent of a Star Trek convention: dressing up as a character from the stories he loves. Many texts beloved by scholars have their origins in fandom, with authors so fascinated by their predecessors that they reinterpret their work. And literary criticism, no matter how objective it may seem, always depends on a reader’s often emotional, sometimes fanatical attachment to a text. So what’s the difference between a work of fan fiction and an artistic reinterpretation? And where’s the boundary between a fan and a critic?
This course will explore fandom as both a literary theme and a literary habit. Some texts we’ll read are populated by obsessive fans who can’t stop referencing their favorite works; other texts are themselves obsessive fans who can’t stop referencing their favorite works. The majority of our readings fall into both categories.
Since this is an R&C course, we’ll devote most of our time to close reading and intensive writing. The course will develop students’ abilities to read texts carefully, to examine both points of coherence and moments of tension within them, and to analyze the relationship between meaning and textual form. Its other major aim is to help students express increasingly complex ideas in writing. The various writing activities in the class, from the major analytical essays to shorter creative exercises, will connect critical thinking and writing, improve students’ control over their writing voice, and introduce new ways of thinking about structure and development.
Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
A. S. Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, trans. James E. Falen
Pedro Almodóvar, All About My Mother
David Lynch, Mulholland Drive
Joseph Mankiewicz, All About Eve
Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver
A course reader will include excerpts from Don Quixote and Vikram Seth’s Golden Gate; a short story by Jorge Luis Borges; essays by Joan Didion and D. A. Miller; and poetry by Matthew Arnold, W. H. Auden, Anthony Hecht, Archibald MacLeish, Andrew Marvell, and Gary Snyder.
Course Catalog Number: 17206