Seminar – What is literature's global economy of prestige and what are its inequalities? Which is to say, where, how, why and by whom is universal literary value conferred?
If you are a writer from, say, Cape Verde, Romania, New Zealand, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia or even parts of the American South or Midwest—places whose literary traditions are deemed peripheral by the centers of consecration (New York, London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Frankfurt)—what unique vicissitudes must you face, what literary norms at home or abroad must you either embrace or breach, to achieve not only native but international renown?
This course offers close readings of works in English or translation by 20th-century writers from around the world who were once marginalized but are now considered central to literary enterprise. Among them are:
Thomas Bernhard (Austria): Correction
Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina): Labyrinths
Patrick Chamoiseau (Martinique): Texaco
Nuruddin Farah (Somalia): Maps
William Faulkner (New Albany, Mississippi): The Sound and the Fury
Danilo Kis (Serbia): A Tomb for Boris Davidovich
Clarice Lispector (Ukraine, Brazil): The Passion According to G.H.
David Malouf (Australia): Remembering Babylon
V.S. Naipaul (Trinidad and Tobago): A House for Mr. Biswas
Salman Rushdie (British India): Midnight's Children
Wole Soyinka (Nigeria): Aké: The Years of Childhood
While the course aims to identify and examine their singularity of achievement by way of assimilation or differentiation in "the world republic of letters," it is chiefly concerned with similarities and dissimilarities of narrative structure and strategy, language and syntax, imagery, time and place and character development.
The course requirements are these: a short (3–5 pages) piece of literary criticism on a clearly defined topic to be determined in consultation with the instructor—which essay will be orally presented to the class—and a 12–15 page final exercise in imitation of any writer covered during the semester. Active class participation is mandatory.
See the Writing MFA Program page for all course information and requirements.