This is NOT a course
in the comic book i.e. a graphic novel or a book with pictures in it. It IS an
exploration of novels that use humor, wit and a keen sense of the absurd to
explore a variety of themes. We will certainly read novels that are light in
tone and intended to make the reader burst out in laughter (P. G. Wodehouse/ V.
S. Naipaul). We will also read novels that exploit humor though much darker in
mood, even deeply pessimistic about human society (Jonathan Swift)—after all,
if pressed hard enough the difference between humor and horror becomes razor
thin; both rely on a so-called deviation from the norm, even sometimes on the
grotesque. Broadly the course is divided between novels that may be described
as “comedies of manner” and as satires. The novels are American, British and
Caribbean and will be studied in a comparative way.


This is a studies
course and so assignments will be focused on research. It is a
writing-intensive course and fulfills W Focus requirements. Required reading
not listed below will be available to download and print via Laulima.


Assignments and
Class Work:

Students will
write a 500 word essay responding to an assigned novel twice in the semester.
Early in the semester, students will produce a five page annotated bibliography
on a topic related to the theme of the class. Building on the bibliography, mid
semester students will select novel or novels (or other texts, decided in
consultation with the instructor) that they are going to discuss in their final
term paper and write a five page paper (a) analyzing the text/s and (b)
indicating what some of the responses to the text/s have been in critical
essays and reviews. At the end of the semester, a twelve-page research term
paper, complete with bibliography and proper citations and constituting the
bulk of the grade for the semester, will be due.


Required Texts (available at Revolution Books, 2626 King Street)

Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (Norton Critical Edition Only)

V. S.
Naipaul, Miguel Street

Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs

P. G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters

Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia

Joseph Heller, Catch 22

Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories