Introduction to Fiction: Narrative, Violence and Justice

Autumn 2016-2017


Julie Orlemanski

This Gateway course introduces central aspects of the study of narrative by examining how stories depict violence and justice. We will consider both how language represents experience at the limits of articulation (as in intense pain, cruelty, and death), and we’ll analyze how narrative both constructs and undermines models of just violence and lawful punishment. The course will concentrate especially on literary manipulations of point of view: violence, justice, and narrative are all radically perspectival phenomena. Readings will likely include the Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, and works by Franz Kafka, Jack London, Shirley Jackson, and J.M. Coetzee. (A, B, G)