C LIT 322 A (1843)
Studies in Asian and Western Literatures
 

Testimony and Allegory in World Literature

How do texts and films describe cataclysmic and traumatic events? How does the narrator cope with the need to tell and retell painful expriences? How do authors address not only the past but also the present in which they are producing their work? The course examines these questions through novels and films from China, France, Israel, Italy and Yugoslavia.

 

 

 

Hours: MW 2:30-4:20

Classroom: THO 134

5 credits

 

 

Instructor: Yomi Braester
office: C-504 Padelford
office hours: MW 4:30- 5:30 and by appointment
e-mail: yomi@u.washington.edu
course website: http://faculty.washington.edu/yomi/east-west.html

 

 

Assignments

Grading Components

Policies and Procedures

Readings

Class Schedule

 

 

 

 

Assignments

Class assignments include: (1) In-class commentary: at the end of each class, students will be asked to write a short response to what has been discussed. The purpose is to allow the students to think through what has just occurred, and to allow me to gauge class progress. The assignment is performed in class. To allow some flexibility, students are required to hand in 18 commentaries, although class meets 19 times. (2) Reading responses: students are required to hand in a typed reading response, at least two-page long, for each of the 12 readings, following a set of questions posted on the web (link will be added here). The responses should demonstrate familiarity with the text and point at passages of special interest to the student. Unlike the two papers, the responses are not meant to demonstrate originality of thought .In principle, no extensions will be allowed for reading responses (see policies). (3) Mid-term paper: the paper will be written on a given set of questions (link will be added here). The paper should be 4-6 pages long and typed. To understand the expected quality, please consult my grading criteria. (4) Final paper proposal: a one-page typed proposal should include (a) identifying the passage(s) to be discussed, (b) main argument, similar to the opening paragraph of the finished paper, and (c) paper outline, similar to the second paragraph of the finished paper. The purpose of this assignment is to ensure that students think of the thesis and structure of the paper well in advance. Since the final paper can be written on any subject related to the course, it is important to get my approval and feedback before handing in the final paper. (5) A final paper, 6-8 pages long, typed. Again, pleaseconsult my grading criteria.


 
Grading components
In-class commentary: 18 X 0.5 =   9
Reading responses: 12 X 2.5 = 30
Mid-term paper: 21

Final paper proposal

  5
Final paper: 35


 

Policies and Procedures

Late submissions must be pre-approved by the instructor or they will not be accepted. Extensions for reading responses, make-up classes, and extra screenings will be available only in very special cases, where the students can demonstrate circumstances beyond their control.

All assignments, except in-class commentary, must be typed. To ensure a standard length, please make sure to use Times New Roman font, size 12, double-spaced, with page margins not exceeding 1.25 inches on each side.

The course adheres to UWs rules on plagiarism
(see http://depts.washington.edu/grading/issue1/honesty.htm).

Students with disabilities are encouraged to inform me, and Ill do my best to provide the relevant accommodations.

 
Readings
Books are available at the University Bookstore as well as on reserve in Odegaard.
Texts:
- Feng Jicai, Ten Years of Madness: Oral Histories of China's Cultural Revolution
      (not available at the library)
- David Grossman, See Under: Love
      (PJ5054.G728 A9713 1989)
- Liu Daren, "Azaleas Wept Blood" (will be put on reserve)

- Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
      (PL2754.S5 A25 1990)
- Albert Camus, The Fall
       (PQ2605.A3734 C513 1991)
- Primo Levi, TheDrowned and the Saved
      
(D810.J4 L45313 1988)
- Zhang Xialiang, Grass Soup Reserve
      (PL2837.H762 F3613 1995
- Wang Shuo, Playing for Thrills

      (PL2919.S55 W3613 1997)
Films, on reserve at the Odegaard Media Center:
- Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful
- Eli Cohen, Under the Domim Tree (on order)
- Jiang Wen, In the Heat of the Sun
 

CLASS SCHEDULE

 

week 1

Monday, 3/26 Introduction: Can historical testimony be read allegorically?
Class discussion: Chen Kaige, The Dragon-blood Tree
For texts presented in class, see here
Wednesday 3/28 Screening: Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful
  Start reading: Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved
 

week 2

Monday, 4/2 Living to tell
  Class discussion: Life is Beautiful; The Drowned and the Saved
For texts presented in class, see here
Finish reading: Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved
  READING RESPONSE #1 DUE
 
Wednesday, 4/4 Testimony and storytelling
  Class discussion: Life is Beautiful; The Drowned and the Saved;
Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
Read: Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman and Other Stories (selection 1)
For texts presented in class, see here

week 3

Monday, 4/9 The dilemmas of witnessing
  Class discussion: Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
Read: Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman and Other Stories (selection 2)
  READING RESPONSE #2 DUE
 
Wednesday, 4/11 The witness as suspect
  Class discussion: Diary of a Madman and Other Stories

Start reading: Albert Camus, The Fall

For texts presented in class, see here

week 4

Monday, 4/16 "Testimony" and "allegory"
  Class discussion: Albert Camus, The Fall
Finish reading: Albert Camus, The Fall
  READING RESPONSE #3 DUE
 
Wednesday, 4/18 The survivor's guilt
  Class discussion: The Fall
Start reading: Zhang Xianliang, Grass Soup
START PREPARING MID-TERM PAPER (QUESTIONS LISTED HERE)
For texts presented in class, see here

week 5

Monday, 4/23 The split self
Class discussion: Grass Soup
  Finish reading: Zhang Xianliang, Grass Soup
  READING RESPONSE #4+5 DUE
For texts presented in class, see here
Wednesday, 4/25 The downfall of language
Class discussion: Grass Soup
No reading; catch up!

week 6

Monday, 4/30

The Cultural Revolution

Class discussion: Ten Years of Madness; writing workshop #1
  Read: Feng Jicai, Ten Years of Madness (selection 1)

Wednesday, 5/2 Punishment without judgment
Read: Feng Jicai, Ten Years of Madness (selection 2)
  READING RESPONSE #6+7 DUE
For texts presented in class, see here

week 7

Monday, 5/7 Screening: Jiang Wen, In the Heat of the Sun
For texts presented in class, see here
  MID-TERM PAPER DUE
No reading
 
Wednesday, 5/9

Nostalgia and street-smart literature

  Class discussion: In the Heat of the Sun

No reading; RESPONSE #8 DUE

week 8

Monday, 5/14 Memory and playfulness
Class discussion: In the Heat of the Sun; writing workshop #2
Reading: David Grossman, See Under: Love (part I)
   
Wednesday, 5/16 Screening: Eli Cohen, Under the Domim Tree
The screening will take place in Kane Hall, room 19
(enter through room 23 in the basement)
  Reading: David Grossman, See Under: Love (part II)
  READING RESPONSE #9+10 DUE
week 9
Monday, 5/21 Memory and commitment
Class discussion: Under the Domim Tree
  Reading: David Grossman, See Under: Love (part III)
 
Wednesday, 5/23 The holocaust and storytelling
  Class discussion: See Under: Love
Reading: David Grossman, See Under: Love (part IV)
READING RESPONSE #11+12 DUE
FINAL PAPER PROPOSAL DUE (for proposal format, see assignment guidelines)

week 10

Monday, 5/28 Memorial Day -- no class
(catch up with readings!)
 
Wednesday, 5/30 Lost words
ROOM CHANGE: Class discussion: See Under: Love and conclusion
SMI 309 No reading
 
Monday, 6/4 FINAL PAPER DUE (extensions must be approved by instructor beforehand)