ENGL 124(F) Family Matters (W)

"Anyone who has survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life" (Flannery O'Connor). A course designed to explore the representations of family in recent American literature. Family is our first community, and in the literature of family one commonly accepted and undisputed convention emerges: parents and children are morally bound to one another. These bonds of blood, both liberating and limiting, have always been a literary convention. In this course, we will examine recent American fiction that explores such bonds. What do such narratives claim we want from our families? What do such narratives claim we're willing to do to get it? Have recent narratives developed particular and characteristic strategies for approaching this topic? And are there importantly particularizing aspects of the American family? The emphasis here will be on developing analytical skills. To that end, class members will produce: short written responses to published fiction; biographical presentations on the authors to be discussed; four longer essays which will involve extensive peer-editing, revision and one-on-one meetings with the professor. Students will also be responsible for teaching one class on a work of their choice. The emphasis will be on exploring the reading and writing processes, and on coherently communicating that exploration to each other. Authors to be considered may include: Rick Moody, Junot Diaz, Andre Dubus, Lorrie Moore, Gish Jen, Adam Haslett, Grace Paley, and Jonathan Franzen. Format: discussion/seminar. Requirements: active class participation and 20 pages of writing in the form of frequent short papers. No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 19 (expected: 19). Preference given to first-year students. This Course is part of the Critical Reasoning and Analytical Skills initiative.