Western literary history, especially since the eighteenth century, is full of impostors and forgeries. Since Chatterton purported to “discover” a fifteenth-century poet and his contemporary Macpherson faked an ancient Celtic epic, there have been many instances of literary fraud to amuse, perplex, or outrage the reading public. In recent years, James Frey (A Million Little Pieces) was taken severely to task for fabricating parts of his best-selling memoir. Within a month of this scandal, the identity of the popular “autobiographical” author, J. T. LeRoy, was exposed as a fake. Both these exposés have reawakened a very old debate that we seem not yet to have resolved in our culture concerning the worth of literature and the distinction between fiction and non-fiction. By what values do we judge literature? Are truth and authenticity the most important values? Or are works of literature—even those claiming to be true—best understood as performance? We will address these larger questions through topics such as the status of the “truth claim” in modern literature; authenticity and originality as categories of style; and the rise of the novel in literary history.
This course satisfies the second half of the reading and composition requirement. In addition to refining the expository and argumentation skills learned in R1A, we will focus on incorporating research successfully into your writing.
- Behn, Aphra. Oroonoko
- Defoe, Daniel. Moll Flanders
- Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
- Course Reader
* Required books are available at the ASUC bookstore (that’s the campus bookstore) and at Ned’s. I require that you have the specific editions ordered for this class. The editions we’re using are also available through Amazon.com, if you prefer to buy online. Check with me or the bookstore inventory first about ISBNs to be sure you are purchasing the right edition if you choose to order online.
* The Course Reader will be available at University Copy, 2425 Channing Way (b/w Telegraph and Dana; enter through the alleyway running through the Durant Parking Garage). You will be able to purchase the course reader starting *on Saturday, January 22nd* (to be confirmed either in class or via email).
- K.K. Ruthven, Faking Literature [etext available through library website: www.lib.berkeley.edu]
- MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers [available in Moffitt and Doe Reference, LB2369 .G53 2009]
- Eds. Booth, Colomb, and Williams, The Craft of Research [available in Moffitt, Q180.55.M4 B66 2003]
- 3 page diagnostic essay
- 6-8 page research paper with related drafts
- Prospectus and Oral Presentation for final research project
- 10-12 page annotated bibliography as final research project
- Several graded short assignments including summaries and various worksheets
- Attend guided Library tour, complete scavenger assignment, and attend the librarian-instructed session