C LIT 322A 11476

Yomi Braester
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 experiences? 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, Germany, Israel, and Italy.

 

 

 

Hours: TTh 9:30-11:20 CLASSROOM: MGH 238 5 credits

 

 

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

class list (postings will be accepted only from UW IDs): clit322a_wi12@uw.edu

 

Assignments

Grading Components

Policies and Procedures

Readings

Class Schedule

 

 

 

 

Assignments

Class assignments include:
(1) In-class commentary: at the end of each class marked by an asterix (*), 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 12 commentaries out of 14 marked meetings.
(2) Reading responses: students are required to submit, via a reading response, at least 300 words long, for 15 of the 16 readings (a double reading response should be 600 words long), 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.
Reading reports are submitted through Catalyst Dropbox by the specified deadline. In principle, no extensions will be allowed for reading responses.
(3) Final project:
   (i) Stage One: interview for at least an hour a friend or family member about an important event that has involved some loss. This could be an injury, death in the family, move to a new city, etc. Provide a full transcript of the interview; identify which questions you had prepared ahead of time, and why; identify which questions you asked in response to the interviewee's words, and why.
   (ii) Stage Two: Write an essay, at least 1,500 words long, explaining the connection between the interview and what we have discussed throughout the course (details will be discussed in class in advance). Papers should be handed in through Catalyst Dropbox by the specified deadline.


 
Grading components
In-class commentaries (12):
10
Reading responses (15):
30
Final project, stage one:   30
Final project, stage two:   30


 

Policies and Procedures

Late submissions must be pre-approved by the instructor or they will not be accepted. Extensions will be available only in very special cases, where the students can demonstrate circumstances beyond their control.

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:
- David Grossman, See Under: Love
      (PJ5054.G728 A9713 1989)
- Liu Daren, "Azaleas Wept Blood" (on electronic reserve)
- Lu Xun, "Diary of a Madman" (on electronic reserve)

- Albert Camus, The Fall
       (PQ2605.A3734 C513 1991)
- Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved
      
(D810.J4 L45313 1988)
- Zhang Xialiang, Grass Soup
      (PL2837.H762 F3613 1995
- Bernhard Schlink, The Reader
      (PT2680.L54 V6713 1997)
Films, on reserve at the Odegaard Media Center:
- Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful (MIRA 003)
- Eli Cohen, Under the Domim Tree (FOXL 054)
- Jiang Wen, In the Heat of the Sun
 

CLASS SCHEDULE (subject to CHANGES)
 

week 1

Tuesday 1/3 Introduction: Can historical testimony be read allegorically?*
  Class discussion: Chen Kaige, The Dragon-blood Tree
  For text presented in class, see here
 
Thursday 2/3 Screening: Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful
  Read for today: Levi, The Drowned and the Saved, pp. 11-104
   

week 2

Tuesday, 1/10 Testimony and allegory*
  Class discussion: Life is Beautiful*
  Read for today: Levi, The Drowned and the Saved, pp. 105-203
  READING RESPONSE #1 DUE
   
 Thursday, 1/12 The dilemmas of bearing witness*
  Class discussion: The Drowned and the Saved
  DOUBLE READING RESPONSE #2-3 DUE
 

week 3

Tuesday, 1/17 The witness as suspect*
  Class discussion: The Drowned and the Saved; "Diary of a Madman"
  Read for today: Lu Xun, "Diary of a Madman" (download here)
  READING RESPONSE #4 DUE
   
Thursday, 1/19 Testimony and detective-work*
  Class discussion:  "Azaleas Wept Blood"
  Read for today: Liu, "Azaleas Wept Blood" (download here);
                           Camus, The Fall, pp. 3-71
  READING RESPONSE #5 DUE
   

week 4

 
Tuesday, 1/24 The survivor's guilt*
  Class discussion: The Fall
  Read for today: Camus, The Fall, pp. 72-147
  DOUBLE READING RESPONSES #6+7 DUE
 
Thursday, 1/26 Complicity after the fact*
  Class discussion: The Fall
  Read for today: Schlink, The Reader, pp. 3-117
 

week 5

 
Tuesday, 1/31 The innocense of the guilty*
  Class discussion: The Reader
  Read for today: Schlink, The Reader, pp. 118-218
  DOUBLE READING RESPONSE #8+9 DUE
   
 Thursday, 2/2

Between judgment and punishment*

  Class discussion: The Reader
   

week 6

 
Tuesday, 2/7

TBA

  Read for today: Zhang , Grass Soup, pp. 3-132
   
Thursday, 2/9

NO CLASS

 

week 7

Tuesday, 2/14

The downfall of language *

  Class discussion: Grass Soup
  Read for today: Zhang , Grass Soup, pp. 134-247
  DOUBLE READING RESPONSE #10+11 DUE
   
Thursday, 2/16

Screening: Jiang Wen, In the Heat of the Sun

  No reading
   

week 8

 
Tuesday, 2/21 Memory and playfulness*
  Class discussion: In the Heat of the Sun
  No reading
   

Thursday,2/23

Project presentations
Final project, stage one, DUE
week 9
Tuesday, 2/28 Project presentations
Read for today: See Under: Love. Part I (Momik)
 
Thursday, 3/1 Second-generation trauma *
  Class discussion: See Under: Love
  Read for today: Grossman, See Under: Love, Part II (Bruno)
  DOUBLE READING RESPONSE #12-13 DUE
   

week 10

Tuesday, 3/6 Storytelling from the grave*
  Class discussion: See Under: Love
  Read for today: Grossman, See Under: Love, Part III (Wasserman)
  DOUBLE READING RESPONSE #14+15 1DUE
   
Thursday, 3/8 Lost words*
  Class discussion: See Under: Love
  Read for today: Grossman, See Under: Love, Part IV (The Encyclopedia)
  READING RESPONSE #16 DUE
   
Tuesday, 3/13 Final project, stage two, DUE