English 189-1 - Spring, 2020

Seminar in Literary Studies

    Topic: Mysticism/Magic/Modernism

Class Information

Instructor: Dobbins, Gregory
CRN: 64116
Time: TR 12:10-1:30
Location: 308 Voorhies




    Around the year 2000, James Joyce's lengthy and difficult novel Ulysses finished first place in a number of polls that ranked "the most significant literary works of the Twentieth Century". Despite these accolades, many people-- including even some of those same people who voted in these polls-- confessed or continue to confess their inability to read the novel due to its length and complexity. Right now-- in late March 2020, and under conditions of social isolation and the requirement to stay-at-home throughout the world-- global sales of Ulysses have unexpectedly started to rise. Apparently, many throughout the world have decided to take on their so-called reading "bucket-lists" in order to finally complete those books they have always intended to read but never quite gotten around to doing. So-- in our own circumstances, with much more time available to us due to social distancing and the threat of literary difficulty at least partially allayed by allowances made towards the wider acceptance of P/NP grading in Spring 2020-- what better time than now for us to do exactly the same in a necessarily online seminar course devoted to Joyce's most famous novel??

    This course is, first of all, a beginner's introduction to perhaps the most famous "unread" book in the literary canon.The majority of the quarter will be devoted to a slow and in-depth reading of Ulysses. Along the way, we will read additional brief works that have some connection to the novel and will be helpful towards our progress. (Some familiarity with Homer's 'Odyssey' or other works by James Joyce-- namely 'Dubliners' and 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'-- will be helpful, but not necessarily mandatory) The goal at all times, however, will be to understand as much of Ulysses as we can and simply try and complete our reading of the novel by the end of the quarter-- or at least in time for Bloomsday-- June 16, the unofficial international holiday which takes place every year in honor of Ulysses.?


    One term paper (10-12 pages), various short writing assignments concerned with learning how to grapple with Joyce's prose techniques, and frequent and productive class participation (online, via Zoom discussion).


    Ulysses (1961 edition), James Joyce
    Ulysses Annotated, Don Gifford