Reading Fiction

In this course we will weather famous literary storms featured in major fictional works from the late 19th century to the present day. We will use this thematic lens to think critically about the basic building blocks of fiction, and the way that fictional storms blur lines between setting, plot, characterization, suspense, and narrative structure. Short stories and novels include Kate Chopin’s “The Storm,” Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes were Watching God, Ernest Hemingway’s “After the Storm,” James Joyce’s “The Dead,” Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse, Ben Lerner’s 10:04, and Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones. Some of our storms will be based upon actual events, including Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and Irene; this will raise complex questions about the boundaries between fictional and historical events. We will also use this topic to think about how fiction engages science, and to trace the ways in which environmental catastrophes intersect with racial and socioeconomic disparities.