Final reading schedule now on “Books and Schedule”

I’ve posted the readings for next week, which are mostly made up of articles by or related to David Eagleman, as well as a very short story by Virginia Woolf related to our movement into Life Narratives–broadly defined. On that note, I have decided that we’ll continue as planned with Frankenstein. It’s just too good to drop.

I’ve also posted a list of articles dealing with narrative for our readings on “Academic Narratives” on July 31. You don’t have to read all of them–though you can if you wish. But you should read at least one and be prepared to talk about it in class.

Remember to finish Time’s Arrow and to read Ebert’s review of Irreversible. And consider these questions:

Are some subjects not to be written about from certain perspectives? By certain people?

What do you think of authors using wit and humour to treat enormous topics like child abuse, slavery or the Holocaust? I don’t mean making comedies about these topics, but treating them seriously in part through the use of laughter, gallows humour, irony, unreliability…

Many critics took Martin Amis to task for writing Time’s Arrow, accusing him of profiting from another people’s suffering. Is this a legitimate criticism? Even if you disagree, what do such views tell us about the difficulties of narrativizing certain historical facts? If you agree, what do you think should be done? Are some topics out-of-bounds to literature, film, journalism, biography?

There’s no doubt that it is difficult and shocking to read novels with unreliable narrators dealing with morally disgusting acts or attitudes (like Nabokov’s Lolita, A. H. Homes’s The End of Alice, Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, Jason’s chapter in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and, of course, Time’s Arrow). But should we be spared the shock? Or can the shock be valuable and productive? Where’s the line? How can authors avoid using the shock simply to sensationalize (that is, to use the term loosely, how can they deal with such violent topics without being pornographic about it–or is this unavoidable)?


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