The Invention of Mark Twain: Reading the Major Works|
Spring 2009 not offered
This course will explore the ways in which Samuel Clemens invented and constructed Mark Twain, his authorial persona, as both a literary master and a popular celebrity. We will examine his techniques from various perspectives, beginning with his innovative revision of existing genres, as when he revised older travel narratives to create INNOCENTS ABROAD and ROUGHING IT, used Arthurian romance to fashion an important element of A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT, and used a wholesale parody of American popular culture to fashion HUCK FINN. Second, we will look at the complex character relations Twain establishes between and within his novels (asking, for instance, why and to what effect a minor character in TOM SAWYER becomes the protagonist in HUCK FINN). Third, we will pay particular attention to Twain's style, including his uses of dialect, social types, and unusual first-person narrators. Finally, we will consider the uneasy dialectic between realism and romance that shapes both individual books and the larger pattern of Twain's career. In approaching Mark Twain, we will also discuss his skillful use of humor to bring ideological issues before the American public, such as the lasting effects of slavery and the dangers of American exceptionalism as the United States became a global imperial power.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Mark Twain, THE INNOCENTS ABROAD OR THE NEW PILGRIMS PROGRESS (Signet), ROUGHING IT (Mark Twain Library, U Cal), THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER (U Cal), THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (U Cal), A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT (U Cal), PUDD N'HEAD WILSON AND OTHER TALES (Oxford), THE DEVIL'S RACE TRACK (U Cal)
Stephen Railton, MARK TWAIN IN HIS TIMES, website @ UVA
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Class meetings will be organized around discussion of the day's assigned readings (including background from Stephen Railton's ground-breaking hypertext), written exercises (often posted on BlackBoard), and formal essays. Attendance is required. Participation in a field trip to the Mark Twain House will also be required. Missing any of the 24 classes may result in loss of credit for that day. Three or more absences may result in failure of the class. Please inform me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you must be absent.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
You will be writing early and often in this class, beginning with two creative writing assignments, then proceeding to a series of analytical essays. Plan also to attend a number of scheduled writing conferences with me to discuss your work. All written work must follow this standard format: title; page numbers; double-space, 12 point, Times New Roman font. Please keep electronic and graded copies of your papers. Bring them with you to writing conferences. Periodically, examples of student work will be e-mailed to the group or presented in class. N. B. All exercises are due in class on the days indicated and deal with material scheduled for discussion that day. Therefore, I will not accept late papers. Please plan accordingly.
Exercise 1: Book Review of Innocents Abroad or Roughing It (posted on Amazon.com)
Exercise 2: Imitation of Humorous Story (following Twain's "How to Tell a Story")
Exercise 3: Close Reading of Twain's style, 4-5 p.p.
Exercise 4: Analysis of character relations, 4-5 p.p.
Exercise 5: Prospectus for final paper, 2 p.p. (posted on Blackboard)
Exercise 6: Annotated Bibliography (posted on Blackboard)
Final Paper: Critical essay that responds to at least three outside sources, 10-12 pp.
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