Monday, January 07, 2008

Imitation of Life II

My winter quarter class starts tomorrow. I'm teaching Imitation of Life again. Here's the course description:

To a large extent this course is about characters and characterization: How do authors and other artists create characters, both human and non-human? How do readers decide whether a character seems real, and what if the characterization is a bit off from our sense of reality? After examining techniques and experiences of characterization, however, we'll go further, by questioning the boundaries around characters. What is inside and outside a character? What is a character and what isn't? And more basically still: how do artists portray aliveness itself?

While discussions will be fluid and topics will merge and diverge, the course falls into three basic sections: Claiming Reality (weeks 1-3); Building Characters (weeks 4-6); and Consciousness and Point of View (weeks 7-9).

Course Materials:

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Anton Chekhov, Uncle Vanya

Daniel Clowes, Ghost World

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

Edward P. Jones, The Known World

Konstantin Stanislavsky, An Actor Prepares

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Films: Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, dir.); Vanya on 42nd Street (Louis Malle, dir.); The Cherry Orchard (Michael Cacoyannis, dir.)

+ Class visits by Rachel Anderson of Stanford's Drama Department, and fiction writer and Stanford Creative Writing instructor Eric Puchner.

+ Gallery talk by Patience Young, Curator for Education, Cantor Art Center on works by Richard Avedon, Joan Brown, Chuck Close, and Duane Hansen.

+ Additional articles/excerpts by Erich Auerbach, Sigmund Freud, Sherry Turkle, Alex Woloch, and others will be handed out or available for download from Coursework. There is no course reader.

I'll introduce the course with LonelyGirl15, and its self-conscious gestures toward "dorkiness"--a marker for realism.

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