James Joyce's "Ulysses" is probably the most important novel of the twentieth century, possibly of English literary history. It is one of the funniest but also, supposedly, one of the most challenging and difficult. As such, it lends itself to the sustained single focus of a 400-level English course. In 2022, as we read the novel on its hundredth birthday (2/2/22), we will be asking why it continues to speak to and through novelists as various as Zadie Smith and Samuel Beckett and engage the imaginations and intelligences of readers and writers alike. We will read the book first of all for its intrinsic interest, examining the use of the Homeric parallel as well as of the various organizational schemes Joyce devised in writing the story. We will also reference the novel to a number of external contexts: as an example of the emergent project of literary Modernism; as an imaginative remaking of the concepts of race and ethnicity as well as the the political and religious cultures of the Ireland in which Joyce grew up; as a vision of a new Europe in the aftermath of the First World War; as a daring experiment in fashioning new gender imaginaries, for female as well as male characters; and, ultimately, as a reinvention of the form of the novel, which extends tendencies in modern linguistic thought to unprecedented dimensions. These considerations will be supplemented and enriched by various critical accounts of the novel, ranging from helpful expositions to understandings of the novel's impact on subsequent literary and cultural history. Satisfies the Twentieth Century and later requirement.
Course Attributes: EN H; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM; EL TC