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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2008

E 314L • Banned Books and Novel Ideas (34490-34495)

Unique Days Time Location Instructor


Course Description

How does the form and structure of a text, its historical content, and its cultural context affect how it is read, understood, and received? What assumptions do readers bring to a text they engage with, and how do those assumptions change the nature of the text?

All of the works we will encounter in this class have been found objectionable or controversial for one reason or another; our focus during the semester will be to engage the texts themselves to learn what they help reveal about the controversies they ignited. Throughout the semester, as we explore the controversies around these works and their ideas, we will learn more about how people assess the merit of a literary work, and how authors and readers engage in complex negotiations over religious, sexual, and political mores.

"Banned Books and Novel Ideas" is intended to teach students how to think more deeply and critically about the texts they encounter and the world they live in. Students will consequently develop a better sense of their own strengths and weaknesses as writers, thinkers and participants in the culture they live in and create.

Grading Policy

Consistent participation in the class community blog.

Active development of the student's personal Learning Record, a portfolio based student assessment system. (Portfolio will include short response papers, assessment of class participation, and a longer analytic paper).


John Milton, Areopagitica
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
James Joyce, "Nausicaa" and "Penelope"
Donald Bartheleme, Snow White
David Foster Wallace, "Big Red Son"
Dusan Makavejev, WR: Mysteries of the Organism
Alexander Tarkovsky, Andrei Rublev

A course packet will include critical essays pertaining to the primary works.


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