We will read a range of fictional works in this course—including short stories, novels, and a graphic novel—with the aim of becoming better at interpreting literary meaning. In order to do so, we’ll consider how ideas are conveyed through the formal strategies, literary devices, and narrative techniques that authors use. We’ll also consider the relationship between artistic form and historical context: how do writers respond to pressing personal or communal questions in their works? And how can style itself be interpreted as a form of engagement with social, ethical, and political questions? Finally, we’ll draw on what we’ve learned to consider where and how fictional conventions operate in the world around us. Authors may include: Jane Austin, Herman Melville, Kate Chopin, James Baldwin, Chang-Rae Lee, Edwidge Danticat, George Saunders, Alison Bechdel, and ZZ Packer.