University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

The Princesse de Clèves / Les Liaisons Dangereuses / The Red and the Black / Madame Bovary / Anna Karenina /
Death in Venice / Venus in Furs / If on a Winter's Night a Traveller . . . / The Unbearable Lightness of Being

English 330 - Studies in
World and Postcolonial Literature:
Politics of Desire in The European Novel

FALL 2005

Instructor: Bernard Duyfhuizen
Office: Schofield Hall 136
Hours: by appointment
Phone: 836-4625


This course will examine some European novels published from the late seventeenth century to the 1990s. For the purpose of focusing our study, we will explore the "politics of desire" represented in each text. Essential to this sort of study is a recognition of how society in general, and specifically the family, seeks to police both the exercise of desire and, in particular, the culturally formulated object of desire: the female body. Therefore we will be particularly concerned with how the representation of desire and the plot of desire stages a site of struggle that illuminates the emergence of the individual consciousness in Western culture. Although our primary focus will be on struggles "of the heart," be alert to other representations of the "political" in the depicted milieus of the various texts we read. As we re-contextualize these narratives to understand the social forces under their surfaces (and to which they in turn contribute), we will possibly discover the historical formation of our own attitudes and beliefs toward the politics of desire in our own lives.


I want this course to operate primarily through discussion based on the reading assignments with occasional lectures added to provide background on particular concepts. Classes I teach are predicated on the pedagogy of discussion, so the burden is on you each class to be prepared to discuss your ideas and to respond to the specific section of the primary text we may be concentrating on for that session--I am most pleased when a class pursues its own lines of inquiry without always waiting for a cue from me.


Students will--prior to class time--write and post weekly informal response papers focusing on a key passage in that day's reading to the class discussion list at restricted to class members only (30 points available; full credit each week depends only on writing a response and posting it before class--you can say anything, but responses that provoke additional discussion [either electronic or in class] and your own contribution to electronic discussion can significantly enhance this assignment as a learning experience).

Students will write three, short (1000 words) "keyword or keystone passage" papers (see class handout for details; 20 points each; MLA Handbook format).

Students will write a critical paper (3,000 words minimum) that must be comparative; topics must be cleared by 1 December; papers are due on 16 December (65 points; MLA Handbook format).

Lastly, class participation--everyone in the class will be expected to express his or her ideas orally in every class session (45 points; mere atendance = 1 point, contribution to discussion = 2 points).

NOTE: Since part of each student's experience at UWEC entails the preparation of a "portfolio" of papers showing how the academic goals of the Baccalaureate degree have been achieved, the critical paper in English 330 (and possibly the Keyword/Keystone passage papers as well) may, depending on your topic and approach, demonstrate your abilities in one or more of the following goals:


Any paper found to have been plagiarized will be dealt with in accordance with the Academic misconduct guidelines set out in the university's Student Handbook.


9/6 Introduction & General Lecture/Discussion on "The Politics of Desire"
9/13 The Princesse de Clèves Mme de La Fayette Oxford UP
9/20 & 27 Les Liaisons Dangereuses Pierre Choderlos de Laclos Penguin
10/4 & 11 The Red and the Black Stendhal Random House
10/18 & 25 Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert Penguin
11/1, 8, 15, 22 Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy Oxford
11/29 Venus in Furs Leopold von Sacher-Masoch Penguin
12/6 Death in Venice Thomas Mann Harper Collins
12/13 If on a Winter's Night a Traveller . . . Italo Calvino Harcourt
12/20 The Unbearable Lightness of Being Milan Kundera Harper Collins

Approximate cost of purchase texts: $100.00 new; however, most of these texts should be available in the campus bookstore in a "used" copy. Since we are reading translations, it would be best if you purchase the translation ordered for the course; however, the experience of reading and speaking about a different translation could add a significant dimension to the class.

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Bernard Duyfhuizen
College of Arts & Sciences
Updated 17 August 2005