Writing About Literature

How do elements of surprise in a work of fiction make us more aware of our position as readers? What can those elements of surprise teach us about ourselves? Can a shift in how we read texts inside the classroom reverberate through our experiences with processing reading materials outside of the classroom? If these surprises help to breathe new life into our reading experiences, then how exactly do they do that? In this course, we will attempt to answer these questions by exploring at least three different ways in which the element of surprise can take shape: Through 1. plot twists; 2. story endings; and 3. experiments with narrative style. The texts for the class may include the following: Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno,” some poems by Emily Dickinson, Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour,” William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi,” three short stories by Flannery O’Connor, Toni Morrison’s “Recitatif,” Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, M. Night Shyamalan’s Sixth Sense, and Ian McEwan’s Atonement.