ENG 354: Contemporary British Literature

English 354 / Fall 2014 / Dr. Comorau
nacomora@owu.edu / Sturges 304/ x3580
Office hours W 3p-4p, R 2p-4:30p, and by appointment
Library Liaison: Jillian Maruskin, jbmarusk@owu.edu

In summer 2012, Danny Boyle used the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games to present a vision of Britishness to the world. The results were exciting, bizarre, and controversial. Boyle, born in Manchester to an Irish mother, is most famous for a film about Scotland and a film about India. Welcome to contemporary Britain. In the second half of the twentieth century, Britain has undergone an incredible identity crisis. As the nation rebuilt from a crushing war, an empire that once spanned 28% of the globe began to crumble. At the same time, immigrants from throughout the English-speaking world (and beyond) flooded in. Experimentations with narrative and poetic form and repeated attempts to reconcile the present with Britain’s storied past ensued.

This class will survey British Literature from World War II to the present. Throughout the semester we will consider how the texts we read both reflect and create the identities of the British subject and nation. We will explore questions of the changing British identity and English language in the face of a declining empire and increased immigration. Additionally, we will interrogate how Britain conceives of its past and its present in its literature as that literature responds to cultural and historical events as well as to literary traditions of realism and modernism.

Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot             
Sudha Budcha, My Name Is
A.S. Byatt, Possession                                    
Caryl Churchill, Cloud 9                                
Carol Ann Duffy, The World’s Wife             
Ted Hughes, Selected Poems                        
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses           
Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners              
Tom Stoppard, Arcadia                    
Jeannette Winterson, Oranges are not the Only Fruit

Films in Beeghly Media center
The Crying Game, dir. Neil Jordan
Children of Men, dir. Alfonso Cuarón

Reading schedule:
M   8/25         Course Introduction
W 8/27         Raymond Williams, readings from The Country and the City (Bb)
F    8/29         Arcadia

M    9/1          Arcadia: continue discussion; “‘Before’ and ‘After’ in Stoppard’s Arcadia.”(Bb)
W  9/3          Ted Hughes: Selected Poems; from The Thought Fox, pp. 3-22
F    9/5          Ted Hughes: Selected Poems: from Crow, pp. 89-119

M    9/8          Ted Hughes: Selected Poems: from Crow, pp. 89-119, The Laughter of Foxes, e-resource on CONSORT, Appendix “The Story of Crow”
W  9/10        Paul Gilroy, readings from There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack (Bb)
F    9/12        The Lonely Londoners: pp. 3-67

M 9/15          The Lonely Londoners: pp. 67-141
W 9/17         “Form and Language in Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners.” (Bb)
F   9/19          Waiting for Godot

M  9/22         Waiting for Godot: continue discussion
W  9/24        Oranges are not the Only Fruit: pp. 1-67     
F   9/26         Oranges are not the Only Fruit: pp. 69-137

M  9/29         Oranges are not the Only Fruit: pp. 139-172; Models for Female Loyalty: The                           Biblical Ruth in Jeannette Winterson’s Oranges are not the Only Fruit.” (Bb)
   **T 9/30 Paper 1 due by 5pm**
W 10/1         Cloud 9
F   10/3         Cloud 9: continue discussion

M 10/6          The Crying Game, Beeghly Media Center; “I thought you Knew…” (Bb)
W 10/8         The World’s Wife: pp. 3-27
F   10/10      **class canceled today**

M  10/13      The World’s Wife: pp. 28-50
W  10/15      **Fall Break**
F   10/17      **Fall Break**

M  10/20      The World’s Wife: pp. 51-76
W  10/22      Continue TWW and “Small Female Skull”: Patriarchy and Philosophy in the                          poetry of Carol Ann Duffy (Bb)
F     10/24     The Satanic Verses: pp. 1-70

M  10/27      The Satanic Verses: pp. 70-141
W  10/29      The Satanic Verses: pp. 141-208
F     10/31     The Satanic Verses: pp. 211-283

M  11/3         The Satanic Verses: pp. 283-351
            ***T 11/4 Paper 2 due by 5pm***
W  11/5        The Satanic Verses: pp. 351-433
F     11/8        The Satanic Verses: pp. 434-521

M  11/10      The Satanic Verses: pp. 523-561; “Angelicdevilish Combinations in                                           Milton’s Satan and Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.” (Bb)
W  11/12      Possession: pp. 1-76
F     11/14     Possession: pp. 77-141

M  11/17      Possession: pp. 142-220
W  11/19      Possession: pp. 221-284
F     11/21     Possession: pp. 285-357 

**Thanksgiving Break**

M   12/1         Possession: pp. 357-413
W   12/3        Possession: pp. 414-479
F     12/5       Possession: pp. 480-516                                                          

M    12/8        Possession: pp. 517-555 “Treasure Hunting and Grave Digging: The                                        Tangible Past in Byatt’s Possession.” (Bb)
            ***T 12/9 Paper 3 due by 5pm***
W    12/10     My Name Is
F     12/12    Children of Men: Screen film in Beeghly before class

**Wed, Dec 17th at 1:30pm Revision Project Due


Class Engagement:
Class participation will be an important part of this course. While students generally think of class participation as adding their voices to class discussion, I would define class engagement more broadly. Being a part of discussion is vital; moreover, the ways in which you engage in discussion are important. The best class participants listen to what their classmates have to say and work to engage the ideas of others, not just wait until it’s time to speak. I believe the most effective classroom is one in which students are building upon and challenging each others’ ideas, and I am speaking as little as possible. Additionally, the engaged student is one who shows up to class on time with a copy of the text we’re discussing that day with relevant pages/passages marked. You need your texts as references for a fruitful discussion. And though it should go without saying, an engaged student has all of his or her electronic devices turned off and put away. Your phone should not be on your desk. Your laptop should not be open. And under no circumstances should you be texting in class. Students who text in class may earn F’s for class participation. It should go without saying that excessive absences may seriously harm your grade.

Leading Class:
Twice this semester you will be asked to lead our class. While you may begin with background information on any part of the text, your main focus should be engaging your classmates in discussion. Each time you will have a partner to help you do so. You may sign up with the same partner for each session, or you may work with two different partners for your two different classes. You and your partner will be responsible for running the first 30 minutes of class, eventually turning the class back over to me. You should meet with me before you lead class so that I may help you prepare.

Reading Journal:
Throughout the semester you will keep a weekly reading journal, posted on the “Discussion Board” section of Blackboard. Each journal entry will respond to the work we will read in class the next day. We will use the journal entries to help spark class discussion. You will be assigned to journal for Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays; your journal entry must be posted by 8pm the day before class (so Monday journals are due by 8pm Sunday). I will post a schedule and detailed assignment sheet on Blackboard.

Short Papers:
Throughout the course of the semester you will write three papers of 5-7 pages each. Papers should be 1650-2310 words in length. I will post a more detailed assignment sheet for the short papers on Blackboard. Your final assignment for this course will be to revise one or more of your short papers in a revision portfolio.

Revision Portfolio:
Your final project for this course will be to revise some of your earlier work. You will have two choices: you may either revise your first two short (5-7 page) papers or you may revise one of your short papers and 4 of your reading journal entries. For either plan you will turn in your originals and revised versions along with a reflection and revision plan. The revision portfolio will be due at our regularly scheduled exam time: Wednesday, December 17th at 1:30pm. I will post a detailed assignment sheet on Blackboard.

Grading Breakdown:

Leading Class 5%
Reading Journal 20%
Class Engagement 15%
Papers 45%
Revisions 15%