Major Twentieth Century Writers
Writing Workshop II

THE ART OF RELATIONSHIP: Marriage, Education and Cross-cultural Communication

Professor Evergreen Keefer

Fall 2004

Objectives: To introduce students to great writers of the twentieth and twenty first centuries in the genre of novels, plays and poetry. This semester focuses on the art of relationship, particularly in marriage, education and society. We use a cross-cultural approach, comparing American literature to Chinese, Brazilian, Egyptian, Moroccan, Turkish, French and British. Close textual analysis will focus on the art of dialogue, character description, depth, conflict, transformation and orchestration. Hopefully this will give students from all disciplines a better understanding of people, their relationships to themselves, each other and their comparative cultures, as well as a love of literature and a better understanding of the process and craft of great writing. The assignments are designed to develop critical skills, enhance understanding of The Other, inspire imagination and creative writing, and foster an appreciation for the travail of the authors.

Theme: The Art of Relationship: Education, Marriage and Cross-Cultural Communication

Requirements and Grading: 50% attendance and participation. 10 points for each of the five short essays interspersed throughout the semester on character description, conflict, transformation, memoir and cross-cultural understanding. Professor Keefer will do all the lectures so you just sit back, relax and enjoy the reading, act out scenes in class and do close textual analyses in groups.
Bring ethnic food--Chinese, French, Brazilian, North African, Middle Eastern, American-- to class to better savor the different cultures.


Each class will consist of readings from literature, discussion, lecture, and presentation of assignments. In addition each student must be prepared to read a poem of their choice aloud from the poetry anthology. These poetry readings will occur throughout the semester, so copy poems and be prepared to read them every week.

Reading List

Anthology of Native American Poetry (in class)
The Human Stain (novel and film)
The Alchemist
Becoming Madame Mao
Red Azalea (optional)

The Sand Child
This Blinding Absence of Light (optional)

My Name is Red (optional)
The Lesson (in class)

Oleanna (in class)
Viewing of Wag the Dog (in class)
The Cairo Trilogy
Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf (in class)
The Thief's Journal
Swann's Way (optional)

If you want to read ahead during break, may I suggest THE CAIRO TRILOGY, MY NAME IS RED, SNOW, AKHENATEN or SWANN'S WAY as these are the most difficult books. Don't worry about plays and poetry as we will cover them well during the semester.

September 11: Introductory Lecture. The 'isms' of twentieth century literary criticism: Marxisim, feminism, sexism, racism, fascism, communism, capitalism, role criticism, aesthetic criticism, deconstructionism, postmodernism etc.Cross-cultural analysis of literature by examining variables in Time, Space, Place, Humor/Satire, Sexual and Religious Taboos and Rituals, Political Censorship, Story Expectations--happy endings etc, Heroism, Levels of Didacticism, Realism and Naturalism, Simplicity/Complexity, Garbage, Geography. (Extrinsic elements.)All these topics can help you with your cross-cultural paper.Film of The Human Stain. Since the most 'ambitious' books are Cairo Trilogy, My Name is Red, and Swann's Way you can begin reading these now, but make sure you have read the novel or play for that week as well. I will also introduce Mahfouz so that each student can pick one of the following characters to follow through the 3 novels: Ahmed, the patriarch, his wife Amina, their children Fahmy, Yasin, Kamal, Khadija, Aisha, Zanuba, Zubayda or Jalila the whores, and perhaps some of the grandchildren or in-laws. In addition, someone can personify the alley or the rooftop or the mosque. As you read, make notes on your character. However, we will start the cross-cultural journey with America, Brazil, the Middle East and China.

September 18: Intrinsic Elements: Lecture on difference between Euro-American Aristotelian structure and Twentieth Century memoir style versus Joseph Campbell's Ordinary World/Special World circular paradigm using The Human Stain and The Alchemist as examples. Check screenwriting links. Examine Story, Structure, Characters, Narrative Style, Word Choice/Vocabulary including sentence structure, paragraph progression, word choice, similes, metaphors, alliteration, rhythm and orchestration. Break into small groups for close textual analysis.

September 25: Marxist Criticism and the Peking Revolutionary Opera. Mao's history, didactic literature, librettos of the Peking Revolutionary Opera. Read Becoming Madame Mao, Red Azalea is optional.

October 2: Cross-Cultural and historical literature. Tahar ben Jalloun combines the sociopolitical rage of Muslim post colonialists with a deep awareness of Islam, the beauty of North African images and the body/memoir and postmodern aesthetics of late twentieth century Paris. Discuss The Sand Child and This Blinding Absence of Light. Read aloud rough drafts of cross-cultural paper.You may use literary works from any two cultures and you do not have to use this reading list for the rough draft.3 page paper on some aspect of cross-cultural analysis, refering to both the intrinsic and extrinsic elements discussed in the intro lecture.

October 9: Descriptive techniques and narrative styles. Multiple narrators and recursive, linear and tandem competitive story lines. Lecture and discussion on My Name is Red and Snow.

October 16: Lecture on scene study, Secrets Lies Obstacles Wishes. Act aloud The Lesson by Eugene Ionesco. Lecture on Existentialism (Jean-Paul Sartre, the bourgeois marxist: Existentialism is a humanism, existence precedes essence (anti-platonic), man is the sum of his actions, responsible atheism, anguish and responsibility, the optimism embedded in nothingness, engaged literature, No Exit, philosophical books, and Albert Camus: Catholicism, agnosticism, the Myth of Sisyphus and The Stranger) and Theatre of the Absurd (Ionesco, Genet and Beckett): absurdism, minimalism, deconstructing language, the loss of paradise, the ascent into nothingness, "La Chute de la Tradition Theatrale," the subject of Professor Keefer's thesis at the Sorbonne, Paris. Assignment Due: Describe a character of your choice from one of the novels we have read comparing them to someone you know, yourself or another character.

October 23: Act out Oleanna. Lecture on Mamet. Viewing of WAG THE DOG if there is time. Discussion of differences between screenwriting and playwriting. More work on character conflict and orchestration.

October 30: Character Transformation: Lecture on Naguib Mahfouz. Cairo Trilogy I Palace Walk. Act out Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee. Discuss marital differences between the two cultures. Assignment Due: Write a dramatic scene with three characters from one of our plays or novels demonstrating principles of dramatic conflict and SLOW technique.

November 6: Palace of Desire. Akhenaten. Lecture on the clash between Islamic and Pharaonic Egypt. Discussion of Mahfouz so far.

November 13: Sugar Street. Assignment Due: 4 or 5 page paper on the character transformation of one of the characters through the three books in the first person like a journal. Pick passages to read out loud. Character orchestration session where each student prepares a speech and then improvises a scene as their character. We may gather the families at a birth, wedding, funeral or current event.

November 20: Thief's Journal by Jean Genet. Courage and confession in the memoir. Exercises to find and acknowledge the Shadow. Read Native American poetry.

December 4:Introductory lecture on Marcel Proust. Swann's Way by Marcel Proust. Character, Depth and Memory. Assignment Due: 3-6 page memoir of dreams and memories in one room where narrator/self meets monster of the unconscious.

December 11: Submit revised versions of five assignments on Cross-cultural, Descriptions, Characters in Conflict, Character Transformation, and Character (Shadow), Depth and Memory. 10 points for each assignment.

For Writing Workshop II Students: You can make up attendance in the Literature class. Logic and other lectures, as well as Course Objectives, Requirements and Grading can be found here.

The Breakdown for the semester will depend on student needs to fulfill the requirements of writing a 5-8 page midterm and a 15-20 page research paper with a 3 page bibliography. In addition, students must submit 2-3 pages of free writing every week in any genre on any topic. Research topics must be approved by the third week and should revolve around Relationship theme--cross-cultural, marriage and education-- unless there is a strong commitment to another area. You are still encouraged to take an angle on this field that helps you with your major. For example, exploring marriage from the health science perspective, business from the cross-cultural, humanities from the educational point of view. I will announce specific topics in the listserv and below in a breakdown. You choose your own bibliography but you can use any of the books in the lit class, Shakespeare's Love's Labor's Lost, Taming of the Shrew and Midsummer Night's Dream, and the Critical Thinking and Communication to help you with the argumentative portion of your work.

Grading is 40% weekly papers and participation, 30% midterm, and 40% final.