English 4457.1

David McNeil          david.mcneil1@smu.ca

TR: 10:00-11:15

 

Description:

This class will examine the contemporary American non-fiction, perhaps best represented in the annual “Best American Essay” collections edited by Robert Atwan.    After a brief survey of the origins of the essay form and its tradition in American literature, we will consider a number of works from the BAE 2007 collection.  Then, the class will focus on the non-fictional prose of two writers: David Foster Wallace and Joan Didion.

 

Texts:

Best American Essays: 2007, ed. David Foster Wallace and Robert Atwan

Joan Didion, We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live: Collected Non-Fiction

David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

 

Method of Evaluation:

 

Mid-Term   

20%

Oct. 14

Class Participation

10%

Sept. 9 – Dec. 2

Short Essay  (4 pp.)

15%     (Presentation possible)

 

Term Essay  (8 pp.)

30%

Nov. 11

Final Exam

25%

Exam Period: Dec. 2-20

 

 

Sept.    9          Introduction

                       

          14        Best Essays

          16        Best Essays

 

          21        Didion

          23        Didion

 

          28        Didion

          30        Didion

 

Oct.     5          Wallace, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”

          7          Wallace, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”

 

          12        Wallace

          14        Mid-Term

 

          19        Wallace

          21        Best Essays

 

          26        Best Essays

          28        Best Essays

 

Nov.    2          Didion

          4          Didion

 

          9          Wallace          

          11        Wallace

 

          16        Best Essays

          18        Best Essays

 

          23        Didion

          25        Wallace

 

          30        Best Essays

 

Dec.     2-20     Exam Period

 


Feb.     3          John Dryden,  All for Love (1677)

          5          Thomas Otway, Venice Preserved (1682) tragedy

Essay #1 Due

 

          10        Thomas Otway, Venice Preserved (1682)

          12        George Lillo, The London Merchant (1731) tragedy

 

          17        George Lillo, The London Merchant (1731)

          19        Mid-Term Test

 

  Mar.   3          Catherine Trotter, Love at a Loss (1700) comedy

          5          Catherine Trotter, Love at a Loss (1700)       

 

          10        John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera (1728) comedy

          12        John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera (1728)

Essay #2 Due

 

          17        Susanna Centlivre, Bold Strike for a Wife (1718) comedy

          19        Susanna Centlivre, Bold Strike for a Wife (1718)

 

          24        Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer (1773) comedy

          26        Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer (1773)     

 

31        Richard Sheridan, The School for Scandal (1777) comedy

Apr.     2          Richard Sheridan, The School for Scandal (1777)

 

          7          Hannah Cowley, The Belle’s Stratagem (1780) comedy

          9          Hannah Cowley, The Belle’s Stratagem (1780)

 

          13-27   Examination Period - You must be present to write the Final Exam.