Ulysses is a celebration, a revolution, a provocation, a political act in art. It is also joyous, hilarious, and heartbreaking. This course will not be dry or intimidating! Published in 1922, James Joyce’s Ulysses has been heralded by global readers, critics, and fellow writers as the greatest novel of the twentieth century, and one of the touchstones of world literature of every age. At the same time, Joyce’s book has a reputation for difficulty, being falsely accused of a complex literary design meant, supposedly, to keep the critics and scholars “busy for a hundred years,” as Joyce did say. But in fact the book is meant to be read as a living, breathing world book that speaks to the future and how we can change it. Instead of solemnly tracking down scholarly allusions or doing detective work for “clues,” our course will be a chance to go on the exhilarating and illuminating journey this great work promises as a group, where we share approaches, multiple perspectives, and links to the epic, tragic, comedic, and revolutionary genres Joyce brings together in Ulysses. Joyce’s novel is an odyssey in its own right, meant for a community of readers who invent the book anew each time they read it with their own passion, empathy, and generosity. This almost infinite book is challenging—in a meaningful way--a rite of passage, and above all, immensely fun to read. Joyce uses every available style that English literature and letters contains in a wild ride of a book that is also a poignant narrative of people struggling to live, as we all are, whose paths intersect in star-crossed sparks. We’ll bring the book down to earth, as well as up into transcendence, and spend the quarter living inside it, as Joyce meant us to do. Visual art, science, theater and cinema are in the mix. If you like a big book and you cannot lie, Ulysses is for you. There is no way to “fail” at reading it—except not to try reading it. It will be a culminating experience for English majors, and a taste of heaven’s “night-blue fruit” for those new to modernist literary studies. Rejoice!
James Joyce, Dubliners (Dover Thrift Edition) Dover Publications ASIN: B008KUGOZC
James Joyce, Ulysses (Gabler Edition) Vintage Paperback
Because of the Homeric parallels, having the Odyssey close at hand is important, so get out your old copy or use one in the library, and Hamlet is also a key text to have. Weldon Thornton’s Allusions in Joyce will be on reserve, and can be useful, and the same is true of Harry Blamires’ The New Bloomsday Book: A Guide to Ulysses (Routledge) and Don Gifford’s Ulysses Annotated—also on reserve. A few critical essays on individual chapters will be provided in pdf form. Because we have only ten weeks in a quarter, we’ll be omitting one long chapter, Episode 14 “Oxen of the Sun,” from our discussions, but not our reading.