The full syllabus is available here: syllabus.pdf.


Readings are to be completed by the day they are listed under. The schedule may change as term goes on. The most up-to-date syllabus will always be available via You are expected to have the reading, in print form, with you in class. The bibliography (see below) tells you exactly what edition of each book I expect you to have; in general other versions will not work for this class. If a reading is distributed digitally, you may either print it out or bring your written notes on it instead.

When commonplace-book entries are due, they are to be posted by 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Thursday, September 5.

  • Introduction.

Monday, September 9. Elevating fiction.

  • James, “The Middle Years.”
  • Commonplacing: both groups. All students should choose a single sentence and comment on its use of observation.

(Tuesday, September 10.)

  • Last day to drop the course without a “W.”

Thursday, September 12.

  • James, “The Middle Years.”
  • James, “The Art of Fiction.”
  • Woolf, “Modern Fiction.”

Monday, September 16.

  • Woolf, Monday or Tuesday, selections (commonplace from one of these):
    • “A Haunted House.”
    • “Monday or Tuesday.”
    • “The Mark on the Wall.”
  • Commonplacing: group A. Theme: Woolf’s handling of mental life.

Thursday, September 19.

  • Woolf, “The Death of the Moth.”
  • Woolf, “Street Haunting.”
  • Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, chap. 3.

Monday, September 23.

  • Joyce, Portrait, chap. 1–2. Commonplace.
  • Commonplacing: group B. Theme: Joyce’s treatment of childhood.

Thursday, September 26.

  • Joyce, Portrait, chap. 1–3.

Monday, September 30.

  • Joyce, Portrait, complete.
  • Commonplacing: group A. Theme: art and artistry.

Thursday, October 3.

  • Joyce, Portrait, continued.

Monday, October 7.

  • Faulkner, As I Lay Dying, through 104.
  • Commonplacing: group B. Theme: Faulkner’s relation to James, Woolf, or Joyce.

Thursday, October 10.

  • Faulkner, As I Lay Dying, through 155.

Monday, October 14.

  • Faulkner, As I Lay Dying, complete.
  • Commonplacing: group A. Theme: Faulkner’s South.

  • Sayers, Whose Body? at least through chap. 5.

(Saturday, October 19.)

  • Paper 1 due.

Monday, October 21.

  • Sayers, Whose Body? complete.
  • Commonplacing: group B. Theme: mysteries and social problems.

Thursday, October 24.

  • Hammett, The Maltese Falcon, at least through chap. 13.

Monday, October 28.

  • Hammett, The Maltese Falcon, complete.
  • Commonplacing: group A. Theme: the moral code of the novel?
  • (Last day to withdraw with a “W.”)

Thursday, October 31. Boo.

  • Hammett, The Maltese Falcon, continued.
  • Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder.”
  • Hammett, “Suggestions to Detective Story Writers.”

Monday, November 4. Contesting racial convention.

  • Toomer, Cane, up through “Bona and Paul.”
  • Commonplacing: group B. Theme: form.

Thursday, November 6.

  • Toomer, Cane, complete.

Monday, November 11. Armistice.

  • Hurston, Their Eyes, 1–99.
  • Commonplacing: group A. Theme: Janie’s relation to a social context.

Thursday, November 14.

  • Hurston, Their Eyes, 1–128.

Monday, November 18.

  • Hurston, Their Eyes, complete.
  • Commonplacing: group B. Theme: the narrator’s relation to Janie.

Thursday, November 21.

  • Hurston, Their Eyes, continued.

Monday, November 25. Globalizing literary English.

  • Tagore, “The Postmaster.”
  • Commonplacing: group A. Theme: the narrator’s relation to Ratan.

Tuesday, November 26. (Thursday classes meet).

  • Tagore, “The Hungry Stones.”

(Thursday, November 28. No class.)

Monday, December 2.

  • Anand, Untouchable, complete.
  • Commonplacing: group B. Theme: the proletarian subject matter.

Thursday, December 5.

  • Anand, Untouchable, continued.

(Friday, December 6.)

  • Paper 2 due.

Monday, December 9.

  • R.K. Narayan, selected stories (first publication date in parentheses):
    • “Father’s Help” (1942)
    • “Out of Business” (1942)
    • “The Axe” (1942)
    • “Forty-five a Month” (1943)
    • “Gateman’s Gift” (1944)
    • “An Astrologer’s Day” (1944)

(Saturday, December 21.)

  • Take-home final exam distributed on Sakai.

Monday, December 23, at 11 a.m.

  • Take-home final exam due electronically on Sakai. Late exams will result in a failing grade for the course.