20th-Century Fiction [CRN 29387]

Discipline: English
Instructor: Huh
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 0800
End: 0920
Field Work: Day 2 | January 25, 2018 | Japan
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

Literature does not exist in a vacuum.  Fiction, in particular, because of its ability to mirror life, contains much about ourselves, the people in our lives, and the places we inhabit.  Fiction reflects society and social change, both in content and literary manner.  Nowhere is change seen more dramatically than in the 20th century.  This class will explore sociopolitical and ideological upheavals of the 20th century along with modern and postmodern reflections of them.  Following the SAS voyage and its spirit, the selected readings will help students examine ethnic, global, and cultural change, crucially pertinent to our time in general, and especially to the places SAS visits.  We will be reading works by writers from America, Japan, India, Nigeria, as well as Chinese American and Indian American ethnic groups.  As we read these writers from widely different backgrounds, we will examine major sociopolitical and cultural factors, violent at times, presented in literature: national and international conflicts, gender and racial equality tensions, ethnic diversity, globalization issues, colonial and postcolonial impact, among others.  We will also investigate uniquely local issues against/within global settings.  For students, the SAS experience in different ports and the readings will complement each other.  The range of the 20th century this course covers starts with Edith Wharton’s presentation of the early 20th century perspective of the innocent America in the 1870s and ends with Jhumpa Lahiri’s position of returning from where we came with a different understanding of life.

Field Work

Country: Japan
Day: 2
Date: January 25, 2018

Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country presents a relationship between a middle-class scholar and a geisha within a strict social system and accepted cultural practices. As such, the book is a fascinating study of sublime human emotions against social norms and beliefs. How do social, cultural norms maneuver feelings, if they do? How is it that the same human nature that created social practices should now feel their constraint?

Ritual unites nature and social constraint. The famous haiku, “Drinking a cup of green tea, I stopped the war,” articulates the coalescence of artistic ritual and rough nature. The Japanese tea ceremony, with its prescribed setting, its meticulous movements, and aura of mindfulness, seeks to take us to a different level of understanding.

On February 13, we will go to Kyoto, one of the most quintessential Japanese cities. After we observe the tea ceremony in the morning, we will visit a temple so that we can have a glimpse of the traditions and the past of the country in comparison to the fast-tempo contemporary Japan.

Learning Objectives:
1. To learn about the foundation of Japanese traditional beliefs and social practices.
2. To have a glimpse of traditions and the past of the country against the fast-tempo contemporary Japan.
3. To examine the link between artistic representation (text) and social, cultural norms and social practices (context).