Sunday, April 17, 2011

I wish someone had made a tape.....

David Foster Wallace's class at Illinois State University (I think): English 102: Literary Analysis. This was in 1994, a couple of years before publication of Infinite Jest.

The syllabus:

Mary Higgins Clark: Where Are the Children
Jackie Collins: Rock Star
James Ellroy: The Big Nowhere
Thomas Harris: Black Sunday, Silence of the Lambs
Stephen King: Carrie
C.S. Lewis: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Larry McMurtry: Lonesome Dove

Said Wallace:

(We won't use) heavy-duty lit-crit or Literary Theory.

If the course works, we'll end up being able to locate some rather sophisticated techniques and/or themes lurking below the surface of novels that, on a quick read on airplane or beach, look like nothing but surface, all entertainment.

.... These 'popular' texts will end up being harder than more conventionally 'literary' works to unpack and read critically.

You must read every assignment twice before class and come ready to participate.... Anybody gets to ask any question about any fiction-related issues she wants. No question about literature is stupid. You are forbidden to keep yourself from asking a question or making a comment because you fear it will sound obvious or unsophisticated or lame or stupid..... So any student who groans, smirks, mimes machine-gunning or onanism, eye-rolls, or in any way ridicules some other student's in-class question/comment will be.... kicked out of class and flunked.... If the offender is male, I am also apt to find him off-campus and beat him up.

1 comment:

David Chute said...

Later at Pomona College: