Thursday, November 10, 2011

English 3000 - British Literature and Class

In this (hypothetical) course, we are going to explore how and why class is important to British literature. The history of British literature might be summed up as an attempt to negotiate the blurring of class divisions through fictional means. Using some key British texts including film and photographs, we will explore how class divisions were irrevocably changed from the beginning of the twentieth century into the turbulent "Angry Young Men" era of the Sixties and we will attempt to tease out the myriad causes and effects from this change. As William Golding once wrote, "class is the language of the English". Particular attention will paid to social changes in society, so there will be a measure of historical context required for each text.

The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett
The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
Lady Chatterly's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
The Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Saville by David Storey
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe

In addition to the above texts, we will be screening select British films:
Kes. Dir Ken Loach. 1968
The Servant. Dir Joseph Losey. 1963.

Certain articles will be on e-reserve and in hard copy at the library. Students are responsible for their own copies of the articles.

Close Reading 1 (750 words) - 10%
Term Essay 1 (1500-2000 words) - 15%
Close Reading 2 (750 words) - 10%
Term Essay 2 (2000-2500 words) - 25%
Participation and attendance - 10%
Final Exam - 30%

A couple of these novels are rather long, starting with Bennett's massive masterpiece. Students are recommended to stay ahead of the readings, but the course is structure to give some sort of relief with shorter novels coming after Bennett. During the second term, students will be required to read Saville, the other long novel, but in the weeks leading up to it, the films will be screened in order to provide students with ample time.

[This is the first in a series of the courses I plan to teach one day]

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