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Don Quixote: How to Read the Ultimate Novel
RL&L 236
Spring 2021
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: COL 236, MDST 236, WLIT 247

No novel is more celebrated than "Don Quixote," albeit in often contrary ways: touchstone at once of the modern and the post-modern; of prosaic and magical realism; of Romantic idealism and skepticism, relativism, or materialism; of a truth-telling folly; and of the competing claims of books and "life" or history and fiction. Sample superlatives: the one text that can challenge Shakespeare in the Western canon (Harold Bloom), all prose fiction is a variation on its theme (Lionel Trilling), one of the four great myths of modern individualism (Ian Watt). Each generation recognizes itself differently in it and every major literary tradition has made it its own. One secret of its lasting appeal is that, brilliantly improvisatory and encyclopedic, it resists being pinned down. Nothing quite prepares us for the hallucinatory thing itself. There is something for every taste: self-invention; the biology of personality; humor, pathos, and tragicomedy; high and low culture; prose, poetry, and theatrics; episodic variety in a long narrative arc; probing examination of the ambiguities of heroism with a parade of spirited and resourceful heroines who rival and often upstage the heroes; and the disruptive transformations of a new world order (the print, educational, and military revolutions; early modern globalization; incipient capitalism; the explosive growth of profit-driven entertainments). A celebration of the transformative power of imagination even as it casts a gimlet eye on how fantasies can go awry, what passes for "the real world" is often as nutty as the hero himself. We will read, discuss, and write about "Don Quixote" in English, together with key examples of the critical, philosophical, literary, and artistic responses it has inspired. The course assumes no familiarity with literature, history, or Spanish; it does call for an interest in grappling with this wonderful text closely, imaginatively, and historically.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA RLAN
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (COL)(MDST)(MDST-Art/Arch)(MDST-History)(MDST-Lang/Lit)(MDST-Phil/Reli)
Past Enrollment Probability: 90% or above

Last Updated on JUN-24-2024
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