Spring 2021
Tuesday and Thursday, 6:10-7:30 PM, PAB 104

Nathalia King
CC305, office hours Monday and Wednesday, 1:30-3:00PM
e-mail: nking@reed.edu; tel: 503-517-7697 

Course Description

This course will study the relations between description and narration in the novel. We will explore how literary description is constituted, the variety of purposes it has, and how those purposes might sustain, diverge from or complicate the narrative's project. Our inquiry will be guided by three basic questions. In what ways might one usefully catalog the relations between description's special interests in specific moments, landscapes, objects, characters and the plot’s overarching teleology?  How does the relation between description and narration illuminate a novel’s representation of material culture, its place in a literary tradition, or its role as a carrier of ideology? How do the preferred media or optic technologies of a particular period influence the composition of the novel? For purposes of rudimentary historical survey, the course opens with bookend texts, one from the ancient, one from the contemporary, and one from the medieval period.  For purposes of closer study, we will spend most of the semester reading naturalist, realist, and modernist novels.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Learn to recognize, define, and use theoretical terms and concepts pertaining to description and narratology;
  2. Learn to compare narratological theories in relation to one another and in their historical contexts;
  3. Reflect on the cogency and potential applications of theoretical arguments;
  4. Refine close reading and analytical writing skills.