Historical Fictions/Fictional Histories (LIT4165.01)

Marguerite Feitlowitz

In this advanced seminar, we will consider the demands and complexities of working with history in fiction. When, where, why, and how do facts abet and/or intrude on the creation of plot, character, place, framing, rhythm, and other details of style in novels and stories? How do questions of representation, selection and emphasis, vocabulary and tone, pacing and texture, affect the writing of history? What is the role of rationality in fiction? Of irrationality in history? On what basis do we extend our trust to the historian? To the fictional narrator? These are but a few of the questions we will ponder over the course of the term, as we read novels that deal with, among other subjects, antiquity (Hadrian’s Memoirs), memory and the Holocaust (Sebald), the recent sectarian wars and forensic human rights interventions in Sri Lanka (Michael Ondatje), as well as the conflicting 17th-century accounts about one of the first Chinese men to set foot in Europe.

Learning Outcomes:
* You will perform close readings of complex literary and historical texts;
* You will write extended essays on our readings;
* You will present your observations, views, and papers as part of the seminar group;
* You may have the option to write your own historical fiction.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Please submit a critical writing sample (a paper you wrote for a class and of which you are especially proud) to mfeitlowitz@bennington.edu by May 6, 2021.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
Th 1:40PM - 5:20PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: All courses , Fully In-Person , Literature
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