Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hour / session

Course Overview

This subject serves as a broad introduction to the field of European and Latin American fiction. It is taught in an historical manner—beginning with the first picaresque novel, Lazarillo de Tormes, and ending with contemporary European fiction. It is designed to help students acquire a general understanding of major fictional modes-from 18th century epistolary fiction, Liaisons dangereuses, to 20th century avant-garde fiction: Cosmicomicsi and Aura. Attention is paid not only to the literary movements these works represent, but also to the subtle interplay of history, geography, language and cultural norms that gave rise to specific literary forms. While the reading load is heavy, the books are compelling.

This course is designed for a variety of students. Some will be taking a literature course for the first time, others may have taken literature but may not have had experience with the kinds of approaches to texts that characterize this subject.

This subject is a “communication intensive” class. That means that in our work together, students will have the opportunity to refine their written and oral communication skills. Each student will write three 7-8 page papers in the course of the term. Students will submit drafts which will be corrected and discussed individually before the final paper is due. The assignments will be varied and designed to strengthen writing skills. Feedback on every draft will be given within the week in which papers are submitted so that students can use corrections in producing the final essays. Students will also participate in teaching groups which will afford the opportunity for oral presentations. These presentations will be critiqued by peers and by the instructor. Students will also submit journal entries on each reading. These journals are due in class the day of class discussion on that work. While they are not graded, failure to submit the journals on the appointed day will lower the grade.

Course Requirements

  1. You are expected to attend all classes since class discussion is central to the course. Unexcused absences will automatically lower your grade.
  2. You will turn in short journal entries as indicated on the syllabus. Three asterisks indicate days on which these are due. One purpose of the journals is to get your thoughts and reactions together for class discussion; therefore, they must be submitted when you come to class—not a few days or an hour later. Unless you have a convincing excuse, any late paper will lower your grade. Thought questions usually will be distributed before we read each work. These questions will be generated by the instructor or by the teaching group presenting that work.
  3. The class will divide itself into groups. Each group will be responsible for teaching one class. The group will meet to discuss the reading and to outline its teaching plan; the group will prepare “thought questions” on the reading and distribute them at the class meeting prior to discussion of the book. Teaching groups may meet with the instructor before they finalize their teaching plans. They should obtain bibliography on the author and/or the culture under discussion through library work. You are not required to submit a paper on the book for which your teaching group is responsible.
  4. You will write three papers each from 7-8 pages in the course of term. The dates for the drafts as well as final copy are noted on the syllabus.
  5. Any films listed on the syllabus are an integral part of the course. They will be available for a full week in the language lab so that you can see them at your convenience.
  6. If at any time during the semester you find yourself having trouble with work for the class, let me know right away—not at the end when it is too late. If you have any suggestions regarding any aspect of the course—how it is taught, organized, etc.—feel free to let me know either by seeing me or by attaching a note to your papers.
  7. I will be distributing photocopied materials. They must be paid for before the end of the semester.


The final grade in the course will be based on the following activities:

Journal Entries 10%
Oral Presentations 20%
Class Participation 20%
Short Papers 50%


1 Introduction  
2 Lazarillo de Tormes   
3 Les Liaisons Dangereuses Response due
4 Film: Cruel Intentions. Directed by Roger Kumble.  

Cruel Intentions and Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Teaching Group on Cruel Intentions

6 Les Liaisons Dangereuses (cont.)  
7 Film: Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Directed by Josée Dayan. First version of first paper due

Notes From the Underground

Teaching Group on Notes From the Underground

Write response paper
9 Notes From the Underground (cont.)

Response due

Final version of first paper due 1 day after Ses #9


Therese Raquin

Teaching Group on Therese Raquin

Response due
11 Dom Casmurro  
12 Film: Doña Flor and her Two Husbands. Directed by Bruno Barreto. Film response due 1 day after Ses #12


Teaching Group on Metamorphosis

Final version of secnd paper due 1 day after Ses #13

The Back Room

Teaching Group on The Back Room

15 The Back Room (cont.) Response due
16 Film: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Film response due 1 day after Ses #16

Kiss of the Spider Woman

Teaching Group on Kiss of the Spider Woman

18 Film: The Cat Woman. Directed by Alfred Shaughnessy. Film response due 2 days after Ses #18

The Cat Woman and Kiss of the Spider Woman

Teaching Group on the film and the roles of films in Kiss of the Spider Woman

20 Kiss of the Spider Woman (cont.)  
21 Film: Kiss of the Spider Woman. Directed by Hector Babenco. Response paper due 1 day after Ses #21

Accident: A Day’s News

Teaching Group on Accident: A Day’s News

Write response paper
23 Accident: A Day’s News (cont.) Response paper due


Teaching Group on Cosmicomics

Write response paper
25 Cosmicomics (cont.)  Response paper due
26 Aura Third paper due

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

assignment Written Assignments