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Course Description: Fall Semester, 2000 Sheila Roberts
537-721: Special Topics in Liberal Studies Tel: X4534

"Generational Disquiet: Depictions of Parents and Children in Modern Literature, Art, Film, and Photography"

Wednesdays, 6:20-9 pm.
Curtin 939

We have all been children and some of us are parents. We are well aware, therefore, that the range of emotions aroused between parents and children is infinite in its complexity: emotions that may be fleeting; those that may harden into stock-reactions; cause irreparable damage; or, on the other hand, illuminate and strengthen this primal "love-affair."

The causes of discord are also multiple: political disagreement, as in Turgenev's novel Fathers and Sons; social incompatibility, as in Rossellen Brown's Autobiography of my Mother; convention versus changing mores, as in J.M. Coetzee's work Disgrace; the shock of revealed homosexuality, as in Nadine Gordimer's The House Gun; and the paralyzing inheritance of lazy, conniving forebears, as in Bohumil Hrabal's novella, Closely Watched Trains. Profound love between parents and children may be depicted as evocatively and movingly as any other form of love. When Colette in Break of Day reads a letter written by her mother, she exults at being the daughter of such an extraordinary woman. In Dan Jacobson's Herstory, a mother whose son has run away at twelve, cannot forget him and, eventually, deserts her husband and other children to go in search of him--the special one. My point, in a nutshell, is that the emotional responses among parents and children may be strong, sharp, bitter, even deadly, as well as expansively benign; but always vulnerable because of the unique beginnings of the relationship.

During the semester, class-sessions will be varied. The discussion of the written texts (including copies of poems to be circulated) will alternate with the viewing and critiquing of films, and the investigative study of a selection of prints of art-works and photographs.

Required Texts (as available) will include: Father and Son by Edmund Gosse; To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, The Lover by Marguerite Duras; The Autobiography of my Mother by Jamaica Kincaid; Autobiography of my Mother by Rossellen Brown; Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee; The House Gun by Nadine Gordimer; Closely Watched Trains by Bohumil Hrabal; and Break of Day by Colette, Herstory by Dan Jacobson.

Films will include: Secrets and Lies, My Pink Angel, The Piano, Shine, American Beauty, Colonel Redl, Poil de Carotte, and others in addition or as substitutes.

Art Work and Photography: will include the paintings of Mary Cassatt, the pop-art of Norman Rockwell, certain selections from the work of Gainsborough, Daumier, and Munch, and the photographs of "Lewis Carroll," Diane Arbus, and others (to be selected).

Theoretical Texts: A selection will be provided during the first class-session.

Grades will be apportioned in this way: 30% each for a mid-term and end-of-semester written paper; 20% for a class presentation; and 10% for attendance and class-participation. Late papers will be accepted under exceptional circumstances.

Religious Holidays will be respected.

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