Writing about Literature: Demons to Pets: Animals in Fantastical Realms
Even after we‟ve seen them sing, dress dapperly, and carry on conversations that most literature majors would give their right arm to be able to emulate, do we still think of Bugs Bunny or White Rabbit as bunnies? This summer, we will cover a variety of novels and short stories that prominently feature animals, looking into how their images morph within fantastical realms. You might have heard of some basic plot strategies, such as conflict, crisis, peripeteia, and recognition; or you may have learned about literary devices such as pastiche, allusion and parody. If you haven't, you will now; if you have, you will have the opportunity to refresh your memory and learn more about them. Then we will do some serious literary analysis (read: writing) about animals in these somewhat weird-sounding literary situations.
Tentative reading list:
Greek myths: a selection, Aesop fables: a selection, Medieval bestiaries: a selection, Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland, Jorge Luis Borges: Book of Imaginary Beings, Terry Pratchett: Witches Abroad, and David Sedaris: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. Secondary readings (discussions of issues addressed in fictional works we read) will be drawn mostly from Richard Bulliet‟s Hunters, Herders and Hamburgers.
This class is a combination of a reading-intensive course and a writing workshop, so most time we will spend working on these two skills. If you have not taken a literature or a writing class at UW, you will be relieved to know that fancy phrases and highfalutin words are neither expected nor welcome; you will practice deploying textual evidence, analyzing it critically, and writing in a no-nonsense style that you can later apply in other areas of your study and life.
There will be three major papers of 3-6 pages, and daily short writing assignments. We will organize study/writing groups every day after class to help you keep up with this considerable amount of work, so make sure to leave some time in your schedule in the afternoons. Required readings are available on a variety of media: in print, as audio books (CDs/audio files), or online. It is up to you which medium you use, but in your papers you will be expected to quote from either books or online sources, so make sure you have access to them. In early June, I will send out a group email with the finalized reading list so that you will have enough time to get hold of the readings before the class starts.
Passing this class with a grade of 2.0 or higher fulfills the 5-credit English composition (C) requirement, or half of the 10-credit Additional Writing (W) requirement.