In-depth study of one or more writers. Examples include Joyce, Morrison, Samuel Johnson, and Henry James.
Current Semester InformationMichael Sinowitz
James Joyce's importance in the development of contemporary literature cannot be overestimated. In his first book, "Dubliners," a collection of short stories that can be seen as forming a novel from its parts, he changed the way people wrote short stories. His second major work, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," marks one of the earliest and most significant uses of the narrative technique now known as stream-of-consciousness. His next novel, "Ulysses," forever left its mark on literature and opened up the world to the breadth and scope of possibility inherent in the novel as a form. Joyce boasted that Ulysses would keep scholars busy for a hundred years, but, with his last major work, "Finnegan's Wake," he seems to have underestimated the difficulty. His novels are challenging, intellectual, and full of comedy, high and low. Well, to be more up front about it: his books are both damn hard to read and damn funny when one can break through the difficulty they present. They make you work like few other texts, but they also pay off like few other texts.
We will focus primarily on three of Joyce's major works, "Dubliners," "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," and "Ulysses." We may dabble a little in "Finnegan's Wake" now and again, but that novel is a matter for another course. Our readings will be supplemented by relevant discussions of Joyce's work, and some contextualizing works on Irish history. We will spend the first half of the course focusing on the two shorter works. For the second half of the class, we will focus almost exclusively on Ulysses, going through this immense and foreboding text at a gingerly pace.