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Narrative Theory

ENGL 303
Spring 2013 not offered
Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory

Narrative, one great critic suggests, may be the central function of the human mind. It is, as another once wrote, "simply there, like life itself." As these claims indicate, narrative gives form to our collective experience: from the shadow of history and the shape of the future to the very texture and meaning of time itself. This course provides an introduction to the tradition of narrative theory--the theory of how stories work and of how we make them work--through a sustained engagement with three core narrative-theoretical concepts: structure, text, and time. A single book will anchor and orient each of the course's units: for structure, Vladimir Propp's Morphology of the Folktale; for text, Roland Barthes' S/Z; for time, Gérard Genette's Narrative Discourse. Herman Melville's novella Benito Cereno will supply our "control text": a narrative to which we will return as we study the theory and through which we will test the powers and the limits, both analytical and historical, of our theorists. In each of our units, we will begin with a careful reading of our main theorist, move on to consider work that elaborates on the theory, and then turn to robust approaches--Marxist, historicist, queer, psychoanalytic, sociological--that challenge or modify the theoretical terms with which we started.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA ENGL
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CSCT)(ENGL)

Last Updated on JUL-20-2024
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