Ann Rea

Ann Rea, London in Current British Fiction, Fall 2017

Course Description:

During this course you will read fiction published in the last fifteen years — indeed much of it from the last five years — that shows the writers’ fascination with London. Currently many novelists make the city itself not just the setting, but their central focus: one of the world’s most multi-cultural, technologically advanced cities, and a locus of the world’s financial industry and changing English cultural sensibility, becomes the subject of the novel.

Required Texts:

A.N. Wilson, London: A History Penelope Lively, City of the Mind John Lanchester, Capital
Sebastian Faulks, A Week in December Ned Beauman, Glow
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
Gillian Tindall, The House by the Thames
You should own copies of the texts, which are not expensive, and should aim to mark them up and make them your own, lived-in copies. Since our books are much less expensive than other
textbooks for college classes, please avoid renting them, since your relationship to the books will suffer if you cannot mark them up.

Ann Rea, Introduction to Shakespeare, Fall 2017

Course Description:

For this introductory course we will read eight plays and work on understanding them in their historical contexts, understanding and appreciating the language and the use of verse, prose and stagecraft, as well as characterization. We will examine many of the preoccupations to which Shakespeare returns: kingship and political representation; women and authority; the regulation of sexual behavior; the growing sense of individual sensibility; acting and performance and the prevalent discomfort with dissembling, or inauthenticity. In many cases these are the preoccupations of his era, but the wide popular audience of his plays means that he also intervened on contemporary issues, for example by educating his audiences about their country’s history. Many of Shakespeare’s plays tell stories about England’s fairly immediate history, and we will explore the ways in which Shakespeare influenced contemporary opinion about political matters, perhaps to the point of propaganda, as well as helping to create a cohesive sense of English national identity after a divisive and tumultuous historical period. But his life and work straddle the end of the reign of Elizabeth I and James I’s ascension to the throne: an important political shift which entailed a change in how the theatre was viewed, as well as an increase in censorship, and many of his plays comment indirectly on social and political issues even while they appear to describe very different matters.

Required Text:

The Riverside Shakespeare or The Wadsworth Shakespeare

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Literature of Science, Fall 2017

Course Description

This course will allow students to read and appreciate the many texts in which scientists explain and meditate upon what they do.

Required Texts:

Richard Dawkins, (ed) The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing
Edward O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life
Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Composition 1, Fall 2017

Course Description

In this course, students study and practice the essentials of essay writing, with an emphasis on producing clear, correct prose.

Required Texts:

- anthology The Best American Essays of the Century, edited by Joyce Carol Oates
-The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher by Lewis Thomas
-A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker
-Please also buy a cheap dictionary and bring it to each class.

Syllabus: 
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Ann Rea, World Literature in English, Fall 2016

Course Description:

The term “World Literature” has come to describe literary texts that circulate outside the country of their origin, and has two different forms of usage. This course will use texts from each of these kinds of “World Literature” categories. The first usage indicates texts from many different cultures, written in many languages, many of them ancient or from the past. Some high schools teach Virgil’s The Aeneid, for example, and often do so in a course called “World Literature.” Another use of the term has developed in more recent decades and denotes literature, mostly from former British colonies, written in English even though it originates in countries where English is not the first language. Writers in these countries choose to write in English either because that ensures a wider reading audience outside their own country in a “world literature” market, or, in the case of India, English may ensure an additional wider reading audience inside their own country where people speak many languages. Salman Rushdie, the novelist and essayist, writes that English has become India’s national literary language.

The circulation of literary texts changes according to the historical period and circumstances in which the texts were written. An example of this is that in the nineteenth century, European writers would expect that their works would be translated and circulated throughout other parts of Europe, so that a novelist writing in France would influence writers in other parts of Europe and perhaps beyond, at least in Russia. Charles Dickens, for example, who depicted life in industrializing, urbanizing England, influenced one of the writers we will read in this class, the Russian Fyodor Dostoyevsky who also portrayed Russian cities and poor city dwellers. We will read Crime and Punishment in translation since Dostoyevsky wrote in Russian, in addition to English translations of some of Nikolai Gogol’s short stories, which also influenced Dostoyevsky. Russian writers in turn exerted enormous influence over writing in India in the twentieth century, when India underwent these kinds of changes and became an industrial nation with growing cities. We will read two texts that show that Russian influence on contemporary Indian writers, Aravinda Adiga’s The White Tiger and Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. While each of our readings offers merit in itself, we will also have the opportunity to trace influences and lines of development across cultures and historic periods. This means, in turn, that we will move across the usual constructs of what “World Literature” means, perhaps even moving outside what that term usually denotes, since The Namesake often appears on reading lists for American literature courses and describes immigration to the United States by an Indian family, yet still may be see as “world literature.”

Within colonized countries such as India, literary influence worked differently than influence between various European cultures, since European and especially English writing exerted cultural power that imposed economic and linguistic force. English was introduced to India under British imperialism and while it was the language of the oppressors, English also became steeped in Indian culture in a highly complex way. As the language of literary study and also of legal authority, it exerted a power that marked it off from the native Indian languages; yet for many contemporary writers English is their literary language. For them to write in English is to gain access to an international literary community and marketplace that the use of their Indian languages would not provide.

Clearly the concept of English as a literary language is highly complex then, and yet the Indian writers on our list also show influence from Russia which worked in a different way. Historians have often remarked that India never became communist, even though some Indian political thinkers looked to Russia as a model of a vast, highly populated country whose modernization created great upheaval and poverty among its lower classes. A literary comparison with Russia alerts us to a different strand of political and cultural influence that allows us to see an India that we might not otherwise see. Reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment will influence our view of Adiga’s The White Tiger, set in the commercially aggressive city of Bangalore, raising the question of modernity and its relationship to traditional culture throughout these huge changes in economic practice. After reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story, “The Interpreter of Maladies” that encourages readers to think of fiction writing as interpretation, we will finish the semester with Amitav Ghosh’s novel, The Hungry Tide, which explores ideas about translation and the difficulties of understanding cultures that are different from our own.

Reading List:

- Nikolai Gogol, The Overcoat and Other Short Stories, Dover (various translators)
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment Penguin edition, translated by Oliver Ready
- Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
- Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake
- Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide
- Please make sure that you buy the listed editions of the Gogol and Dostoyevsky texts so that we all have the same translations.

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Jane Austen: Books and Film, Spring 2016

Course Description:

Jane Austen lived and wrote at a time of enormous social change when England was moving towards modernity. She was born in 1775 and died in 1817 at only 42 years of age, and experienced the shift from the eighteenth century to the nineteenth. At the same time she helped to bridge the development of the eighteenth-century novel into the nineteenth-century novel. This accompanied and expressed the dilemmas of a society moving from a late form of feudalism into capitalism, with the accompanying need for an examination of changing morals and civic relations. As a writer whose interest is primarily with the women of her time, Austen also delineates a domestic world and charts the shifts in the part played by domestic life in the growth of capitalism. As part of this transition, women’s roles themselves changed. We begin the course by reading excerpts from Mary Wollstonecraft on the subject of women’s education and that subject was never far from Austen’s thoughts. Education, for Austen and Wollstonecraft, was concerned with the development of women’s minds, manners, morals and ability to perform meaningful roles in their families and in the slightly wider world. Austen’s palette is the close environs of the immediate home and the close society, but her novels often portray England in these microcosms, and she ponders the bigger questions of the direction in which English society was moving. And always she tells a compelling story, with narrative developments that keep us in suspense and characters who we care about.

Jane Austen has earned recent popularity based on a view of her work as a sort of “Masterpiece Theatre,” romantic set of dramas based in mannered English drawing rooms, in long dresses with up-dos. On one hand I like anything that encourages people to read good books, but this commercialized mobilization of “Janeites” that has exploded in the last decade is not what this course will focus on as it misses many of the complexities of Jane Austen’s work, even though we will watch one of the films that could be argued to be part of that explosion. But part of the “Janeite” phenomenon is based on the fact that readers gain lots of pleasure from reading Austen’s narratives and I am very happy about that.

We will read four of Austen’s novels and watch film adaptations, exploring the works’ depths and examining them in their social and historical contexts so that we can understand the influence of Austen’s contemporaries on her thinking. The film adaptations help us to consider the changing reactions to the novels over time. I will assign at least one essay as a reading to help you to consider the adaptation process as a form of reinterpretation.

So while we explore the historical context that allows us to understand Austen’s concerns, we will also examine the narrative techniques that make her novels function. After we read each of the four novels we will also read a critical article so that we will gradually build our critical abilities and embrace the astonishing complexity of the texts. We will also watch a film adaptation of each finishing the course, while you write your long papers, by viewing Clueless, a film that many students have seen without realizing that it is an adaptation of Austen’s Emma.

Print Texts:

- Sense and Sensibility, Harper, (1811)
- Pride and Prejudice, Penguin (1813)
- Mansfield Park, Penguin (1814)
- Emma, Penguin (1815)

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Introduction to Shakespeare, Fall 2016

Course Description:

Shakespeare is a phenomenon unique in English literature. His plays have been read, performed, quoted, studied and written about continually since his lifetime four hundred and fifty years ago, and their influence on English speaking cultures is so enormous that we can scarcely grasp it. Our factual knowledge about Shakespeare himself has some gaps and our access to the plays’ texts sometimes relies on conflicting versions: folios and actors’ prompt books occasionally have missing words and contradictions. But we do have parish records that show that Shakespeare was born on 26th April, 1564 and died in 1616, fifty two years later almost to the day. His family was solidly middleclass and he had a good education which, in those days, consisted largely of the classics, especially Latin. We also have four hundred and fifty years of scholarship about Shakespeare, written by famous writers such as Samuel Johnson, Alexander Pope, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and contemporary scholars continue to find richness and complexity in Shakespeare’s works and to reconsider them from new perspectives.

For this introductory course we will read eight plays and work on understanding them in their historical contexts, understanding and appreciating the language and the use of verse, prose and stagecraft, as well as characterization. We will examine many of the preoccupations to which Shakespeare returns: kingship and political representation; women and authority; the regulation of sexual behavior; the growing sense of individual sensibility; acting and performance and the prevalent discomfort with dissembling, or inauthenticity. In many cases these are the preoccupations of his era, but the wide popular audience of his plays means that he also intervened on contemporary issues, for example by educating his audiences about their country’s history. Many of Shakespeare’s plays tell stories about England’s fairly immediate history, and we will explore the ways in which Shakespeare influenced contemporary opinion about political matters, perhaps to the point of propaganda, as well as helping to create a cohesive sense of English national identity after a divisive and tumultuous historical period. But his life and work straddle the end of the reign of Elizabeth I and James I’s ascension to the throne: an important political shift which entailed a change in how the theatre was viewed, as well as an increase in censorship, and many of his plays comment indirectly on social and political issues even while they appear to describe very different matters.

This class will focus on the plays, although Shakespeare was also a poet. The plays show an enormous diversity between the histories, the comedies, tragedies, and the many “problem plays” which evade these categories. Many of the plays are based on Latin texts that Shakespeare encountered during his education, others are based on old English stories, and some revise these old stories and combine them to make totally new tales.

This class requires your active participation in a way in which your other classes may not. This is not a lecture class, but one where you will engage with ideas and conversation and express your own thoughts. We get to know one another in this class. But you must prepare for class by reading the assigned plays thoughtfully and by coming to class prepared to be involved in active discussion. This can be lots of fun, and we can often have a laugh, but for it to function we need everyone to make the effort to be reflective about his or her part in it. If you tend to want to talk a lot you might need to check that you do not dominate the discussion. If you are shy and tend to leave the talking to others you might need to push yourself to speak. It is extremely important that we behave respectfully towards others in the discussions. Class participation will form part of your grade.

Required Text:

The Riverside Shakespeare or The Wadsworth Shakespeare

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Composition 1, Fall 2016

Course Description:

In this semester long course, students refine their ability to express themselves with clarity and coherence in various genres of writing; they learn the value of using the writing processes to generate, develop, share, revise, proofread, and edit major writing projects and demonstrate that they can produce essays that show structure, integrate evidence and organize significant content, demonstrate purpose, and reveal an awareness of audience. Required of all freshmen.

Required Texts:

- The Best American Essays of the Century, edited by Joyce Carol Oates
- The Longman Reader (with MLA Update and Writer’s FAQ) (Custom) 11th Edition
- A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker.
- Please also buy a cheap dictionary and bring it to each class.

Syllabus: 
AttachmentSize
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Ann Rea, Literature for Adolescents, Spring 2016

Course Description:

This course will read classics as well as modern works written specifically for an adolescent audience. We will also read and discuss sociological and psychological constructions of adolescents and books on pedagogy. Prerequisite: ENGCMP 0004 and ENGCMP 0006.

Required Texts:

-Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
-Katherine Paterson, Lyddie
-Eilis Dillon, The Island of Horses
-S. E. Hinton, The Outsiders
-Sharon Flake, Who Am I Without Him?
-Joyce Lee Wong, Seeing Emily
-Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
-Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
-Jack Gantos, Desire Lines
-Nick Hornby, Slam
-Chris Crutcher, Whale Talk

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Short Story in Context, Spring 2016

Course Description

This course studies short stories that explore a variety of themes. It seeks to define the short story as a specific literary genre and to distinguish it from earlier forms of short narrative literature. It then examines the effects of literary, cultural, and historical traditions on these stories and their reception.

Required Texts:

-Ann Charters, The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction
-Frank O’Connor, Collected Stories

Syllabus: 

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