Is this because of the pluralism of their religion versus Islam's relentless monotheistic focus? Contemporary American audiences expect a higher degree of plausibility, unless dealing with science fiction.
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Yet there is much cross cultural influence. Oates' Black Water is as recursive and thematic as an Arabic poem. Martyr's Crossing is written in the same studied, skillful style as many New Yorker fiction pieces. And most significantly, Soul Mountain combines the reflective, vast space of pre-modern China with the effects of the repressive Communist regime and then a deconstructed narrator, an I, she, he, you, who plows through these mountains with the introspection of a French postmodern writer. Perhaps that is one reason it won the Nobel Prize.
What makes cultures different? History, geography, ethnicity, language. But adaptation and change occurs in response to the land, to the struggle for survival.
Arabs are desert peoples. In the desert the people see forever; their God is the sun, their enemy excessive dryness. The vast mountains of China created a collective culture in contrast to the vast mountains of America where ambitious individuals forged a frontier through the wilderness, killing the indigenous people.
So as our cultures mix and mingle, delicious new concoctions of literature will be created. The point of this course is to preserve the distinctness, the diversity and the difference of cultural flavors, rather than looking at the more homogeneous products of American mass culture with which we are already familiar. By studying the narratives of diverse people we come to an empathy and understanding for "the other," so that we are not trapped in that good versus evil, us versus them, binary crusade of many American politicians.
Major Twentieth Century Writers is a course in cross-cultural communication as well as literary analysis. Ask yourselves why members of some cultures seek solitude, whereas those of others feel sad or even incomplete if they are not continuously in the company of other people?
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Why do some cultures worship the Earth, whereas other molest it? Why do some cultures seek material possession while other believe they are a hindrance to a peaceful life? Are some cultures more visual, kinesthetic, linguistic, rhythmic than others? As we analyze different styles of communication and expression, we weave a fine line between political correctness and legitimate diversity, homogeneity from the global melting plot, and specific differences that foster both creativity and a combustive clash of civilisations.
ALTER EGOS: It is important you have a subjective as well as a scholarly experience of this great, global literature and therefore, each student will choose an alter ego, a major character from one of the books who will journey with you through the literature, enjoying the different countries and cultures, and perhaps changing the plot by falling in love with one of the characters or creating havoc, mayhem or good. Find out as much as you can about the character and then let your imagination and experiences through the other novels transform the character to your liking.
Read the books carefully but also do internet and library research on a dilemma, looking at the works embedded in their sociocultural context, using both primary and secondary sources and focusing on literary theory, intellectual history, political or military or religious issues, depending on your major and interests. Make sure you have a clearly stated thesis that you develop through argumentation and close textual analysis.
Students will have a meatspace class for their oral presentations, and are encouraged to use audiovisual aids as well. Last year Jane Schreck did a middle eastern dance and brought in her costumes, films and photos as she led us into a deeper understanding of the world depicted in Nawal el Saadawi's writings. Choose a few paragraphs from each book, copy them down triple spaced and anlyse every work for implicit and explicit meaning, structure, relationship to the whole etc.
We may have related assignments such as writing a short memoir or poem to help you further understand the microcosmic aspects of the literature. This course is organized into six distinct sections, each with a macro sociological, historical, philosophical, psychological aspects and micro component the text itself.
Cluster 1: One of the most important figures of the twentieth century was Albert Einstein. Not only did he revolutionize science with his theory of relativity, but literature, art, philosophy were all transformed by our nonlinear views of time and space. The novel of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust played with time, memory, and space in creative ways undreamt of in previous centuries and cultures.
With film, art and contemporary literature we have poked holes in the unities of time and space, opening up narrative to infinite possibilties. Throughout the semester let your imagination play with time and space in your own lives. Read a chapter every night before bed and meditate on that timespace change. As you analyze the books, pay special attention to the use of time and space.
Alan Lightman was born in in Memphis, Tennessee. Lightman says that ever since he was a child he built rockets and wrote poetry. He majored in physics at Princeton, reasoning it was easier to be a scientist turned writer than the other way around. In he received his doctorate in theoretical astrophysics from Caltech in Between and Lightman taught astronomy and physics at Harvard, moving to MIT in because there he was given the chance to teach both of his loves--as a physicist and as the director of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies.
Lightman credits Rushdie and Marquez, two other writers on our list, for influencing his work because they are writers who distort reality to see it more clearly. He also enjoys reading writers from other cultures, so he can enter worlds unlike his own.
Numéros en texte intégral
On the macro level, we want to get an introduction to Existentialism and the new Marxism and to how these great writers used literature to further their ideologies; on the micro level we want to examine the works, through close textual analysis, to see how the form of a play differs intrinsically from that of a novel. Jean-Paul Sartre was born into a well-to-do, highly educated family and graduated first in his class in philosophy from the Ecole Normale Superieure, one of the most schools in Europe.
He met Simone de Beauvoir, the second wave French feminist, and thus began a life-long partnership. Sartre was greatly influenced by German philosphers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Edmund Husserl, thinkers who questioned the existence of God, universal truth, immortal life and many accepted "truths" of Western civilisation, in favor of a more phenomenological approach to existence.
What this means is that human consciousness develops as a response to phenomena in the "real" world, as opposed to more Platonian ideals of consciousness coming from man's soul or a higher being. Like many twentieth century intellectuals, he also had his stint in prison, in a German prisoner-of-war camp in When he was released in , he became part of the French resistance against the German occupation, and sought to combine his Existentialist theories of human individuality and freedom with the collective responsibility of the new Marxism. Death, without the hope of eternal life, creates anxiety but forces man to act in the present, to make hard choices, to exercise his freedom, so that he carves out a life, that is in essence, the sum of his actions.
But this existential philosophy should not make a man more selfish, but more responisible; his choices must include a responsibility for humanity as well as himself. In this respect Existentialism is a Humanism , the title of another of Sartre's works. I use the pronoun "he," because Sartre did, although his partner was a strong feminist.
I received a Master's degree in French Literature from the Sorbonne in Paris at a time when Sartre, Camus and the influence of existentialism on the theatre of the absurd was most in vogue, before the post-structuralists and postmodernists like Foucault, Derrida, Kristeva and Barthes had taken over Parisian intellectual life.
In fact my specialty was theatre of the absurd and the title of my thesis was "La Chute de la Tradition Theatrale," which involved an analysis of the aesthetic as well as philosophical distinctions between classical dramaturgy and theatre of the absurd such as Eugene Ionesco, Samuel Beckett and others, and how the media of television and film had forced an anti-naturalist trend on the theatre. I also performed in French theatre as I was completing my degree there. Albert Camus was born in Algeria to a poor, working class family but because of his talent and brilliance, received distinction in philosophy at the University and moved to Paris.
It is as much an indictment of capital punishment and society's social norms as it is an existentialist narrative, written in sparse, pristine prose. My professors at the Sorbonne thought that he would have become more and more Catholic had he not been killed in a car accident at In fact, Sartre and Camus did split and dissociate from each other after the war. Both were prolific writers, spreading their energies across novels, short stories, essays, plays and expository books, which is one reason why Existentialism became a popular movement.
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However, I feel that Sartre was more gifted as a dramatic and argumentative writer, and Camus as a novelist and lyrical essayist. It is simply the conversations of three newly deceased characters, coward Garcin, lesbian Inez, and baby-killer Estelle in hell, which is a Louis XIV drawing room.
They are waiting to see when hell will begin until they finally realize that "Hell is other people. And here is the rub because each character wants and needs something from the others that they cannot give him or her. NO EXIT is an excellent example of how interpersonal conflict is combusted into intense, riveting dramatic action. Every stage is carefully orchestrated until the door opens-- and no one can escape. There are unable to exercise their human freedom to choose.
But the hell is in essence, of their own choosing, because they lack the strength of the existentialist hero who can become the sum of his actions. Working only with dialogue, the bourgeois drawing room and a few limited props, Sartre is able to create a play that continues to be performed all over the world as a great work of theatre, as well as a mouthpiece for the chief tenets of Existentialism.
The play was originally commissioned as something short and easy to take on tour, with no changes in scenery and only three actors. Sartre was also asked to ensure that none of the three actors felt jealous of the other two by being forced to leave the stage or getting the best lines; consequently, he began to think in terms of a situation where three characters would be locked up together--first, in a cell during an air raid, and then in hell.
In this inferno, "hell is other people," because Estelle sees no truth, Joseph hears no truth, and Inez speaks no good, according to former student Jerry Harman. In contrast, THE PLAGUE uses methodical description and precise narration to suck us into another hell, that of a population avoiding and finally facing the ravages of the plague. This is a brilliant sociological study, of how characters work with and against each other to fight a common evil.
Note how important descritive writing is to the art of the novel. Sartre often lacks the patience to describe as thoroughly as Camus, preferring to whip and hack and demolish his world with dramatic and philosophical conflict. Camus documents, describes and patiently recreates a world palatable to all our senses, a world that is often a metaphor for some philosophical injusitice or condition he would rather not attack directly through expository writing. Yet he focuses on the community more than the unconscious exploration of the characters.
Since you need to pick a character to play for the semester, you might enjoy playing any one of the characters in these two great works. For the close textual analysis assignment, pick passages from the two books to analyze to show the difference between dialogue and description aesthetically, the main difference between a play and a novel.
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