R5B, Section 2: The Mystery of the Text: Unconventional Mysteries, Unconventional Narratives

MWF 8-9 | 206 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? When does one “talk” in a narrative? How do narratives or stories sustain an illusion of reality? What happens when we have a work of literature that challenges or subvert these conventions?

This course will investigate a diverse group of modern texts, such as Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler, texts which all center around or are structured by a mystery (missing persons in or misplaced manuscripts); above all, these texts also manipulate, challenge, and upend the conventions of narrative. 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 narrative is constructed and will be able to analyze and explain how 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.

Students will be able to incorporate research into written compositions.

This course fulfills the University requirement for the second semester Reading and Composition Course.

Borges, Jorge Luis, Selections from Ficciones
Calvino, Italo. If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler.
Cortazar, Julio “The Continuity of Parks”
Mitchell, David. Cloud Atlas

Narrative Theory Texts:
Abbott, H. Porter, The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative
Bal, Mieke. Selections from Narratology
Foucault, “What is an Author?”
Genette, Gerard. Selections from Narrative Discourse

Research Texts (Not Comprehensive):
Booth, Wayne C. and Gregory G. Colomb. The Craft of Research, Third Edition

Prerequisite:  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.