E 392M • James Joyce
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
James Joyce was perhaps the greatest writer of English prose during the 20th century. His novel Ulysses represented a literary watershed when it was published in 1922 and has become the central text of English-language modernism. Joyce's dazzling experiments with language and form will perplex, amaze and delight us as we work our way through Ulysses. Other aspects of Ulysses may annoy us--such as the erudition that Joyce presumes of his readers, and the elitist assumptions that underlay his work (as well as that of such contemporaries as Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot). Although we will keep our focus on Joyce's texts, we will also engage such matters as the presumptions and implications of literary modernism in general, Joyce as Irish writer (vs. a European writer), Joyce and colonialism, editing an acceptable Joyce text, and Joyce's relation to other artists and arts (such as music and painting).
Joyce radically challenged the literary conventions observed by his predecessors--and the expectations and skills of his readers. Accordingly, we will address a number of theoretical issues during our discussions, such as the status of an author's "intention" as the determinant of meaning, the artifices of realism, the nature of narrative, the effect of narrative perspective and voice, and pervasively, the relation of art to life, and the viability of language itself as a medium for the "representation" of "reality."
Joyce is a notably evolutionary author (again, like Ezra Pound), and so we will approach his works in sequence, as he wrote them. We begin with Dubliners (his early collection of short stories), proceed to his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and conclude with Ulysses. We will also consider some of Joyce's poems, letters, and critical writings, especially as they illuminate his major works. In addition, a substantial body of criticism will be made available in a packet and/or as class handouts.