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C LIT 240 D: Writing In Comparative Literature

Bildungsroman: The Novel of Education

Meeting Time: 
MWF 10:30am - 12:20pm
Location: 
SMI 107
SLN: 
11800
Instructor:
Brad photo
Brad Gerhardt

Syllabus Description:

Bildungsroman: The Novel of Education

            The Bildungsroman—typically translated as “novel of development”—is a central but contested 19th and 20th century genre; in broad terms, it generally narrates the development of a protagonist from youth into adulthood, often from rebellion into a new sense of community/maturity. But the concept of Bildung is also closely tied to education, and in C LIT 240 we will focus specifically on what “development” means for students. Rather than entering a critical debate about the term Bildung, we will use it as an organizing category to discuss the transition from adolescence to adulthood that is negotiated in the years of “education.” Our focus will be on four 20th-century novels exploring this process of disappointment and anticipation, which sees dramatic changes in living situations and family life, in the selection of career goals, and the negotiation of erotic and non-erotic relationships. In this course we will consider what an “education” truly consists of, and whether it results in “development.” Two of the novels, André Gide’s The Counterfeiters and Elizabeth Bowen’s Death of the Heart, focus on younger protagonists negotiating a hostile adult world and seeking to establish themselves, while the other two, Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurid Brigge and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, concentrate on the breakdown of the educational process, or the inability to see a “future” in a chaotic and unfriendly world. As a writing composition class, our primary task will be developing complex claims about these texts and developing strategies for writing in different situations and for different audiences.

Additional Details:

The Bildungsroman—typically translated as “novel of development”—is a central but contested 19th and 20th century genre; in broad terms, it generally narrates the development of a protagonist from youth into adulthood, often from rebellion into a new sense of community/maturity. But the concept of Bildung is also closely tied to education, and in C LIT 240 we will focus specifically on what “development” means for students. Rather than entering a critical debate about the term Bildung, we will use it as an organizing category to discuss the transition from adolescence to adulthood that is negotiated in theyears of “education.” Our focus will be on four 20th-century novels exploring this process of disappointment and anticipation, which sees dramatic changes in living situations and family life, in the selection of career goals, and the negotiation of erotic and non-erotic relationships. In this course we will consider what an “education” truly consists of, and whether it results in “development.” Two of the novels, André Gide’s The Counterfeiters and Elizabeth Bowen’s Death of the Heart, focus on younger protagonists negotiating a hostile adult world and seeking to establish themselves, while the other two, Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurid Brigge and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, concentrate on the breakdown of the educational process, or the inability to see a “future” in a chaotic and unfriendly world. As a writing composition class, our primary task will be developing complex claims about these texts and developing strategies for writing in different situations and for different audiences.

Catalog Description: 
Comparative approach to literature and a workshop in writing comparative papers in English. Emphasis on cross-cultural comparison of literary works. Readings in English with an option to read selected texts in the original languages Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements Met: 
English Composition (C)
Writing (W)
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:12pm
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