English 149-1 - Spring, 2018

Topics in Literature

    Topic: SERIALS: Literary Works, Piece by Piece

Class Information

Instructor: Kitses, Jasmine
CRN: 61794
Time: TR 3:10-4:30
Location: 25 Wellman


    In April 2015, the serialized podcast Serial reached 76 million downloads, making it the most successful podcast ever released. Since then, the podcast genre has reached new heights and we are increasingly drawn to the serial format—whether we are listening to audiobooks, reading comic books, or watching television. Where does our affinity for the serial form come from? Serial’s producer Sarah Koenig notes, “this is not an original idea…this is as old “as Dickens,” so we will begin with one of the first serialized novels, Dickens' The Pickwick Papers. We will continue to explore seriality through a range of genres, from fiction works such as Stephen King’s The Plant and Joyce’s Ulysses; podcasts such as Serial, S-Town, and Homecoming; poetry such as Dickinson’s “fascicles,” Nathaniel Mackey’s The Song of the Andoumbolou, and Leslie Scalapino’s Way; TV shows such as The Wire, graphic novels such as Richard Maguire’s Here, to the viral web series Worm. Taking into account some recent critical essays on the subject, we will ask: what constitutes “seriality” in our current binge-watching/-listening culture? And what is a serial, anyway? How does seriality work across time and space? How does it relate to collectivity or unity? Why are we so drawn to serials and what can they tell us about our future (and past) interpretive practices? Ultimately, what’s the benefit (or point) of digesting something in parts?


    Short Essay (20%)
    Long Essay (30%)
    Presentation (15%)
    Creative Project (20%)
    Participation (15%)


    The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
    Course Reader