The Unseen in Novel and Film

This course will look at looking by
focusing on how two representational genres (i.e., the novel and film) structure
what we see, what we don’t see, and, ultimately, how we see. The novel, a print
literary genre that did not come into existence until the 1700s (at the
earliest), is a form of narrative that uniquely relies on point of view. Film,
a technology that also relies on perspective (the camera lens or apparatus),
nevertheless presents a very different concept of point of view, because of its
seeming objectivity (as opposed to what is called a subjective viewpoint that a
novel can present). In fact, in terms of human cognitive perception, there is
no such thing as objectivity: 90% of what we see is informed by our previous
experiences. We see what we expect to see. And one’s visual culture shapes
those expectations.

The works we
will be examining all deal with–directly or indirectly–various aspects of
seeing, looking, being seen, visualization, the unseen, and blindness. They do
so by incorporating these as themes or narrative strategies, and/or by
unconsciously omitting various other perspectives. We will be looking at how
the various conventions of these two genres develop those ideas and concerns.
The novels and films also “revision” each other, with an author or
director’s vision altering our perception of the work.

this course will direct your attention toward how to write effectively about
literature and film.

Requirements: response
papers; quizzes; two formal essays; a mid-term; a final exam; participation in
class discussions; group presentations.

Texts (available at Revolution Books, 2626 S. King Street):
Brontë, JANE EYRE; Jean Rhys, WIDE SARGASSO SEA; Joseph Conrad, HEART OF
DARKNESS; Ben Okri, THE FAMISHED ROAD; Films we will view: Robert Stevenson,
JANE EYRE (1943); Jacques Tourneur, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943); Brendan
Maher, WIDE SARGASSO SEA (2006); Frances Ford Coppola, APOCALYPSE NOW (1979);
Tunde Kelani, THUNDERBOLT (2000).