R5B, Section 102: The Mystery of the Text: Unconventional Mysteries, Unconventional Tales, Session D (July 6 – August 14)

M-Th 12-2 | 83 Dwinelle | Instructor: Arthur Lei

Units: 4

All Reading & Composition courses must be taken for a letter grade in order to fulfill this requirement for the Bachelor’s Degree. This course satisfies the second half or the “B” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

What is a story? What assumptions do we make when we read a story? In other words, what conventions, techniques, or practices of narration are there to which we have become so accustomed that they seem invisible or taken for granted? Who talks and how and when does one talk in a narrative? How do narratives or stories sustain an illusion of reality? What happens when these conventions are challenged or subverted?

This course will investigate a diverse group of modern texts, such as Lakhous’ Clash of Civilizations Over An Elevator in Piazza Vittorio and Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler, texts which all center around or are structured by a mystery (missing persons in the former or misplaced manuscripts in the latter); these texts also manipulate, challenge, and subvert the conventions of story-telling. In other words, there is the mystery in the text as well as the mystery of the text itself.

Course Objectives:

Students will think critically about what commonly assumptions we have about how a story or a narrative is constructed. I want, in other words, for the invisible to become visible.

Students will be able to analyze how do the expectations of readers familiar with one genre shape the reception of a text.

Students will be able to carry out close readings of a text, examining how the various elements such as metaphor, rhetoric, and irony work together.

All readings will be in English. Students from all majors and those still deciding majors are welcome.

 Prerequisites: Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading & Composition requirement or its equivalent. Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.