The Slow Burn (LIT4171.01)

Manuel Gonzales

Some novels are slow, let’s not beat around the bush. Some novels are languorous, moving at a narrative- and sentence-level pace that forces you to slow down how quickly you move your eyes across the page, how carefully you attest to the language, the meandering, lengthy, lingering sentences, the sonorous and lulling structure of long and digressive paragraphs. Trying to read these novels at the same quick clip you bring to novels brimming with propulsive narratives pushed forward by a hard-driving internal engine of action and punchy language means you miss most of what’s being said, and oftentimes (if you’re me) fall asleep while trying to read them. But when you slow your reading process to a crawl, when you allow yourself to languor in the language, treasures can be uncovered. Why, then, create such slow-moving narratives? What is gained, what is lost when authors ask the reader to read at a different pace, one that stands firmly outside our fast-paced, modern world? In this 4000 level, 2 credit class, we’ll take fourteen weeks to deeply explore three novels: Rings of Saturn, by W.G. Sebald, Open City, by Teju Cole, and A Separation, by Katie Kitamura. We’ll look for their influences, examine the different kind of stories being told and what the style of writing, the slowness of the reading, does to each. The class will include both critical and some creative writing opportunities.


Learning Outcomes:
*Examine the way an author teaches a reader to read their work as the novel moves forward.
*Examine and interrogate the reasons why a narrative might benefit from a forcefully slowed down narrative style.
*Explore and interrogate literary influences and write critical and creatively about and within this particular narrative style.


Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Interested students should submit either a critical or creative writing sample (5 pp.) via this form by November 17. Admitted students will be notified by email on November 22.
Corequisites: Students are required to attend all Literature Evenings, Bennington Translates, and Poetry at Bennington events this term, commonly held at 7pm on most Wednesday evenings.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 2
W 10:00AM - 11:50AM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: Fully In-Person , All courses , Literature
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