Slavic R5B, Section 3: Reading the Regulated Body: Individuals and Systems of Power in Literary Fiction

TuTh 8-9:30, Dwinelle 105. Instructor: Kit Pribble.

Units: 4

In what ways is the body shaped, controlled, or otherwise marked by the institutions and systems of power within which an individual lives? How might a culturally dominant discourse or ideology influence the representation of (marginalized, criminalized) bodies in art and literature, and how does literary fiction attempt to evade or subvert those influences?

In this course we will examine a range of works from the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries in order to better understand the complex and often fraught relationship between literature, power, and bodily experience. Our texts will represent or reference a variety of literary bodies, including grotesque bodies, the “body politic,” body horror, and gendered or racialized bodies. We will read short prose by Nikolai Gogol, Franz Kafka, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Anton Chekhov, Varlam Shalamov, and Octavia Butler, as well as three novels by Andrei Platonov, Yevgeny Zamyatin, and J.M. Coetzee. Russian and Soviet literature be a major focus of this class. Our encounters with these works of literary fiction will be informed by the critical writings of Michel Foucault, Susan Sontag, and Judith Butler, among others.

Over the course of the semester we will focus on developing the skills of college-level critical reading and writing. Students will outline, draft, write, and rewrite a series of essays, honing their ability to read closely and craft persuasive written arguments. Students will also gain experience identifying and incorporating secondary sources to support their original arguments.

While many readings will be provided either online or in a course reader, students will be asked to purchase the following texts:

Yevgeny Zamyatin. We. Trans. Natasha Randall. Modern Library Classics, 2006. [ISBN-13: 9780812974621; ISBN-10: 081297462X]

Andrei Platonov. The Foundation Pit. Trans. Robert and Elizabeth Chandler and Olga Meerson. New York Review Book, 2009. [ISBN-13: 9781590173053; ISBN-10: 1590173058]

J.M. Coetzee. The Life and Times of Michael K. Penguin Books, 1985. [ISBN-13: 9780140074482; ISBN-10: 0140074481]

This course satisfies the second half or the “B” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading & Composition requirement or its equivalent. Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.

Due to the high demand for R&C courses we monitor attendance very carefully. Attendance is mandatory the first two weeks of classes, this includes all enrolled and wait listed students. If you do not attend all classes the first two weeks you may be dropped. If you are attempting to add into this class during weeks 1 and 2 and did not attend the first day, you will be expected to attend all class meetings thereafter and, if space permits, you may be enrolled from the wait list.