Undergraduate Course: Banned Books: Novels which have Courted Controversy (LLLG07071)
|School||Centre for Open Learning
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||THIS IS A FOR-CREDIT COURSE OFFERED BY THE CENTRE FOR OPEN LEARNING (COL); ONLY STUDENTS REGISTERED WITH COL SHOULD BE ENROLLED.
This course discusses novels that have caused controversy. We will look at each of the novels in context, considering how contemporary readers responded to them. The reading list includes novels which shocked readers because of their treatment of issues like war and slavery or their use of profanity. We will also consider works that depict a society of the future whose horrors did not seem far away enough from the present. We will think about whether these novels really are fundamentally controversial or simply challenge the social and political mores of their times.
A student on this course can expect to explore a number of novels which have been banned either in this country or others. Where possible, we will look at contextual information to explore the reasons why books might be banned and think about whether censorship of this kind is related only to the historical and cultural moment in which these novels are published or whether they have the capacity to shock longer term.
We will begin by exploring the dissident novelist, Alexander Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich which is based on his experiences of imprisonment during Stalin's regime. Students will consider the way in which this novel was controversial but ultimately used to bolster the anti-Stalinist agenda of Nikita Khrushchev. Student will then be asked to think about the role of violence in fiction and about its use in Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. We will consider the novel's claims to be a satire of the 1980s and the role played by the grisly and detailed murders in the text. Edna O'Brien's novel, The Country Girls will allow students to explore how the depiction of sexually explicit material challenged a conservative Irish state post-World War 2. The novel was burned, expurgated and O'Brien publicly castigated. We will consider whether this kind of critical reaction is possible in a contemporary context. John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany will allow students to develop ideas of profanity and sexual content further and explore how Irving's homage to Gunter Grass might be considered offensive. Was it a question of sexual content or actually the political points made by the novel which inspired the ban? Our final novel for the term is the classic British banned book, Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. We will consider the interaction between the book and the withdrawal of the film by its director Stanley Kubrick which shone a light on the text's violence in both cinematic and book forms.
A lecture providing a contextual overview of each novel will be followed by guided group discussion, close reading of the novels and of contextual material. We will try to draw out key issues from the novels, considering them in their historical and cultural context but also exploring them in a contemporary context. The course will be taught in a small seminar setting, where participation will be supported and encouraged.
The course comprises ten two-hour classes plus approx. 80 hours of individual study.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
||Lifelong Learning - Session 3
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||One 2000 word essay submitted after the courses finishes, worth 100% of the total course mark.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- confidently discuss texts
- assess literature based on close reading
- place literature in its historical context
- understand the various issues which affect the critical and public response to novels
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander., 2000. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Easton Ellis, Bret., 2011. American Psycho. London: Picador.
O'Brien, Edna., 2007. The Country Girls. London: Phoenix.
Irving, John., 1990. A Prayer for Owen Meany. London: Black Swan.
Burgess, Anthony., 2013. A Clockwork Orange. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Mullan, John. 2008. How Novels Work. OUP, Oxford.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||* Close critical reading of passages from texts.
* Small group working.
* Setting literature in historical, social and political context.
* Advance preparation of material for class including work for essays and class discussion.
* Wide reading. Students will be encouraged to work around the subject by reading other relevant secondary material.
|Course organiser||Mr Douglas Dougan
|Course secretary||Ms Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855