English 39203: The Political Novel
Section C, Fall 2018
3 Credits / 3 Hours
Mon. and Wed., 11:00am-12:15pm
Welcome to English 39203: The Political Novel. The course description is as follows:
In The Political Novel, we will explore the reciprocal relationship between literature and politics through a range of modern and contemporary works. Though we will primarily address how these works challenge political thought and practice, we will also examine the ways they invest individuals’ lives, locales, and beliefs with broad political significance. In the course of our discussions, we will explore the historical underpinnings of the novels as well as touch upon a number of topics, such as the formation of ideologies, revolution and reform, exiles and intellectuals, gender and class, and alternative histories.
Our readings are sorted into four separate units that each address a different political theme: citizenship, gender, empire, and government. Of course, these themes are not restricted to their respective sections, and I hope each unit will provide us with the vocabulary to speak and write about these issues in all of our texts, which I very much look forward to analyzing with you.
Course Goals and Objectives
Learn to identify the ideologies present in a text, both those it champions and those is challenges
Hone skills of close reading, literary analysis, and critical argumentation
Develop an original and compelling writing voice
Discover the pleasure of reading these texts
All books are available at the CCNY Bookstore.
Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric. ISBN-13: 978-1555976903
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea. ISBN-13: 978-0393352566
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale. ISBN-13: 9780385490818
Zadie Smith, White Teeth. ISBN-13: 978-0375703867
Yevgeny Zamyatin, We. ISBN-13: 978-0140185850
Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here. ISBN-13: 978-0451465641
Recommended Materials and Resources
Purdue University Online Writing Lab (MLA Style Guide):
William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style (Fourth Edition). ISBN-13: 978-0205309023
You may bring laptops in order to take notes but no cell phones, headphones, or portable music players.
Attendance and Punctuality
Attendance is mandatory. Only three absences and three times arriving late (more than ten minutes) will be excused. Each additional unexcused absence will result in half a letter grade dropped. (Two lates equal one unexcused absence). Six unexcused absences will result in a failing grade. If you know you will be late or absent, please email me.
All students must adhere to City College’s code of academic integrity, which reads in part:
Academic integrity is an essential part of the pursuit of truth, and of your education. We are all are all responsible for maintaining academic integrity at City College—it is the rock on which the value of your degree is built.
If you cheat on a test or plagiarize by using someone else's work or ideas, you defeat the purpose of your education. In addition, academic dishonesty is prohibited in the City University of New York, and is punishable by failing grades, suspension and expulsion.
For the complete policy, follow this link: http://www2.cuny.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/page-assets/about/administration/offices/legal-affairs/policies-procedures/Academic-Integrity-Policy.pdf
Assignments must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:59pm on the day on which they are due. Assignments not handed in at all will be given failing grades. Talk to me if you are having a serious problem completing the work, and we will work out a plan that is agreeable to us both. Incomplete or late assignments will lose half a letter grade per day. This means that if you submit an A paper that is due on Monday on Wednesday, you will receive a B.
Essays: 60 points (20 points each)
Participation: 40 points
Total: 100 points
Grading Scale: 94-100 = A; 90-93 = A-; 87-89 = B+; 83-86 = B; 80-82 = B-; 77-79 = C+; 73-76 = C
This is a discussion-based course, not a lecture-based one. I strongly believe that learning is a social practice, and by voicing your reading of these texts to your peers, you are helping to educate the entire classroom, yourself and myself included. However, I am aware that some people are more comfortable speaking than others—in fact, public speaking regularly tops polls of Americans’ greatest fears—and your participation grade will also include active listening. However, there will also be no toleration of deliberately racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or ableist language. I use the word deliberately because we all have gaps in knowledge and experience and part of the purpose of a college education is assisting each other in filling in those gaps. Therefore, I encourage respectful debate when your peers or I have said something that is hurtful, insensitive, or ignorant.
Three times during the semester, I will ask you to write and revise a 750-word essay. These are deliberately short (around three pages) so that we can focus on writing as a continuous practice rather than as a culmination of your learning at the midpoint and end of the semester. Optional prompts will be written in response to student interests and passed out, along with assignment guidelines, one week before each first draft is due.
Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students. Students with disabilities who may need classroom accommodations are encouraged to register with the Access Ability Center/Student Disability Services. For more information, please contact the Access Ability Center/Student Disability Services, North Academic Center, Room 1-218, phone number (212) 650-5913.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects individuals from discrimination based on sex in any educational program receiving federal financial assistance. Sexual harassment, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX, and is considered a Civil Rights offense. City College encourages anyone experiencing harassment, discrimination or sexual misconduct to talk to a faculty member, counselor, or staff; confidential resources are available through the City College Counseling Center at (212) 650-8222.
Reading and Assignment Schedule
Part One: Citizenship
Wednesday, 8/29: Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925)
Wednesday, 9/5: Kafka, The Trial (cont’d)
Wednesday, 9/12: Kafka, The Trial (cont’d)
Monday, 9/17: Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (2014)
Monday, 9/24: Rankine, Citizen (cont’d)
Wednesday, 9/26: Rankine, Citizen (cont’d)
Sunday, 9/30: First Draft of 1st Close Reading Essay Due
Part Two: Gender
Monday, 10/1: Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)
Wednesday, 10/3: Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (cont’d)
Sunday, 10/7: Final Draft of 1st Close Reading Essay Due
Wednesday, 10/10: Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (cont’d)
Monday, 10/15: Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
Wednesday, 10/17: Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (cont’d)
Monday, 10/22: Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (cont’d)
Wednesday, 10/24: Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (cont’d)
Sunday, 10/28: First Draft of 2nd Close Reading Essay Due
Part Three: Empire
Monday, 10/29: Zadie Smith, White Teeth (1999)
Wednesday, 10/31: Smith, White Teeth (cont’d)
Sunday, 11/4: Final Draft of 2nd Close Reading Essay Due
Monday, 11/5: Smith, White Teeth (cont’d)
Wednesday, 11/7: Smith, White Teeth (cont’d)
Monday, 11/12: Smith, White Teeth (cont’d)
Wednesday, 11/14: Smith, White Teeth (cont’d)
Part Four: Government
Monday, 11/19: Yevgeny Zamyatin, We (1924)
Wednesday, 11/21: Zamyatin, We (cont’d)
Monday, 11/26: Zamyatin, We (cont’d)
Wednesday, 11/28: Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here (1935)
Sunday, 12/2: First Draft of Political Dialogue Due
Monday, 12/3: Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here (cont’d)
Wednesday, 12/5: Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here (cont’d)
Sunday, 12/9: Final Draft of Political Dialogue Due
Monday, 12/10: Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here (cont’d)
Wednesday, 12/12: Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here (cont’d)