Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner

Video Lectures

Displaying all 25 video lectures.
Lecture 1
Introduction
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Introduction
Professor Dimock introduces the class to the works of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner, the premiere writers of American modernism. She orients their novels along three “scales” of interpretation: global geopolitics, experimental narration, and sensory detail. Invoking the writings of critic Paul Fussell, she argues that all three writers are united by a preoccupation with World War I and the implications that the Great War has for irony in narrative representation.
Lecture 2
Hemingway's In Our Time (Part I)
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Hemingway's In Our Time (Part I)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock discusses Hemingway’s first book In Our Time, a collection of vignettes published in 1925 that launched Hemingway’s career as a leading American modernist. Professor Dimock examines a cluster of three vignettes from In Our Time to show how Hemingway’s laconic style naturalizes problems of pain and violence amidst the ethnic tensions of the American Midwest. Drawing on the theoretical writings of critics Elaine Scarry and Susan Sontag, and the artistic representations of painter Edvard Munch, Professor Dimock shows how language probes the empathetic boundaries of communal suffering in “Indian Camp” and “Chapter II.” She concludes with a discussion of “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife” that shows how inter-ethnic conflict between Native Americans and whites is neutralized by the primitive impulse of peacekeeping, the opposite of the violence she reads in the two other vignettes in this cluster.
Lecture 3
Hemingway's In Our Time (Part II)
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Hemingway's In Our Time (Part II)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock continues her discussion of Hemingway’s In Our Time, testing four additional clusters of chapters and vignettes. She offers readings of each cluster that focus on Hemingway’s logics of expressivity, substitution, and emotional resilience. She concludes that Hemingway mixes tragedy and comedy as genres of writing to produce a humor that vacillates between irony and farce.

Warning: This lecture contains graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.
Lecture 4
Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (Part I)
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Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (Part I)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock begins her discussion of The Great Gatsby by highlighting Fitzgerald’s experimental counter-realism, a quality that his editor Maxwell Perkins referred to as “vagueness.” She argues that his counter-realism comes from his animation of inanimate objects, giving human dimensions of motion and emotion to things as varied as lawns, ashes, juicers, telephones, and automobiles.  She concludes with a short meditation on race in The Great Gatsby and encourages a closer reading of the novel’s instances of racial differentiation.
Lecture 5
Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (Part II)
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Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (Part II)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock concludes her discussion of The Great Gatsby by evaluating the cross-mapping of the auditory and visual fields in the novel’s main pairs of characters. Beginning with an analysis of the Jazz Age, she argues that linkages between what is heard and what is seen have important implications for the overarching themes of The Great Gatsby, including notions of accountability, responsibility, illusion, and disillusion. She focuses on the linked characters of Daisy and Jordan Baker, Gatsby and Nick Carraway, to show how their convergences and divergences tell the entire store of Gatsby’s decline and fall.
Lecture 6
Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (Part I)
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Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (Part I)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock begins her discussion of The Sound and the Fury by presenting Faulkner’s main sources for the novel, including Act V, Scene 5 of Macbeth and theories of mental deficiency elaborated by John Locke and Henry Goddard. Her main focus is on the experimental subjectivity of the novel’s first section which is narrated by Benjy Compson, a mentally retarded 33 year old who is completely innocent of his family’s decline and fall in 1920s Jefferson, Mississippi. Professor Dimock traces Benjy’s preoccupation with his sister Caddy and her sexual innocence through his sense of smell, and the repeated phrase “Caddy smelled like trees.” She concludes by observing that Faulkner protects Benjy from the loss of Caddy by allowing him to move seamlessly between the present and the past, shielding him in his own memories.
Lecture 7
Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (Part II)
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Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (Part II)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock continues her discussion of The Sound and the Fury by juxtaposing Quentin’s stream-of-consciousness to his brother Benjy’s narrative subjectivity. Professor Dimock argues that Faulkner uses stylistic parallels between the two sections to communicate “kinship” and “variation” between the two narrators. In her readings, she focuses on their relationship with the black characters in The Sound and the Fury, as well as their reactions to Caddy’s loss of sexual innocence. She concludes with a discussion of Quentin’s suicide as a reaction to the “second-hand tragedy” of Caddy’s pregnancy.

Warning: This lecture contains graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.
Lecture 8
Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (Part III)
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Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (Part III)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock discusses Jason’s section of The Sound and the Fury with reference to Raymond Williams’s notion of the “knowable community.” Jasons’s narrative is characterized by the loss of that knowable community, by his pointed rage against his family and servants, as well as his diffuse anger against larger, unknowable entities like the “New York Jews,”  Wall Street, Western Union, and the United States government. Professor Dimock reads this anger as a harbinger of the modern condition: a threatening world in which strangers and impersonality reign supreme. In her reading, she shows Faulkner expressing qualified sympathy for Jason, whose loss of a utopian model of community is represented with sadness and pathos in the final sections of the novel.

Warning: This lecture contains graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.
Lecture 9
Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (Part IV)
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Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (Part IV)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock closes her reading of The Sound and the Fury by reading section four--the section related by an omniscient narrator--through Luster and Dilsey, the two black characters whose personal and racial histories are woven into the history of the Compson family. Luster and Dilsey’s centrality to the final section of the novel, particularly their interactions with the Reverent Shegog on Easter Sunday, transform The Sound and the Fury into a story of redemption; they reconstitute a sense of community whose loss is mourned in Jason’s section. Professor Dimock concludes by reading the final scene of section four--Jason’s taking over of the horse Queenie from Luster’s control--as Jason’s brief and heroic redemption, the only respite that Faulkner grants Jason in the course of the novel.
Lecture 10
Hemingway's To Have and Have Not (Part I)
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Hemingway's To Have and Have Not (Part I)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock introduces the class to Hemingway’s novel To Have and Have Not, which originally appeared as a series of short stories in Cosmopolitan and Esquire magazines. She focuses on Hemingway’s designation of taxanomic groups (“types”) by race, class, and sexuality, arguing that Hemingway’s switch of narrative perspectives throughout the course of the novel casts every character, even protagonist Harry Morgan, as a classifiable kind of human being. In her treatment of types, she shows how Hemingway draws thematic parallels between seemingly disparate racial types, complicating the dualism of “to have” and “have not” that appears in the title.

Warning: This lecture contains graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.

Lecture 11
Hemingway's To Have and Have Not (Part II)
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Hemingway's To Have and Have Not (Part II)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock concludes her discussion of To Have and Have Not by showing how, in the context of the Cuban Revolutions and the Great Depression, characters devolve into those who “Have” and those who “Have Not.” While protagonist Harry Morgan may look like a political and economic “Have Not”--he neither supports the revolution nor possesses enough money to extract himself from its seedier operations--his ability to bring happiness to his wife Marie makes him a social “Have” in a more profound sense. Dimock casts Harry as a “mediated Have,” someone who, through the eyes of others, might be said to be in possession of something vital, denied to others with material and political satisfactions.

Warning: This lecture contains graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.
Lecture 12
Fitzgerald's Short Stories
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Fitzgerald's Short Stories
Professor Wai Chee Dimock demonstrates how four of Fitzgerald’s most famous short stories--“The Rich Boy,” “Babylon Revisited,” “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz,” and “Bernice Bobs Her Hair”--represent “social types,” generic identities that Fitzgerald explores as forms of social reality.  She reads the dramatic tension in each of those stories as determined by the protagaonist’s conformity to or deviation from their idealized social type. 
Lecture 13
Faulkner's As I Lay Dying (Part I)
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Faulkner's As I Lay Dying (Part I)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock begins her discussion of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying by orienting the novel to the Great Depression in the South, as focalized through such famous texts as Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Once this macro history is established, she reads the narrative techniques of As I Lay Dying through two analytic lenses. First, she draws on Bakhtin’s notion of social dialects to underscore the language that indexes poor whites as a Southern type. Second, she marshals Frank Kermode’s idea of narrative secrecy to show how two secrets in As I Lay Dying--Dewey Dell’s illegitimate pregnancy and Jewel’s illegitimate birth--are gradually revealed to the reader through Faulkner’s multiple narrators, each a speaker of a socially codified dialect, and each a practitioner of narrative secrecy in his or her own right.  
Lecture 14
Faulkner's As I Lay Dying (Part II)
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Faulkner's As I Lay Dying (Part II)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock traces Faulkner’s appropriation of the epic genre through two conventions: the blurring of boundaries between humans and non-humans and the resurrection of the dead. She first reads Faulkner’s minor character Tull and his relation to both mules and buzzards to draw out the “nature of manhood in poor whites.” From Tull, she shifts focus to Jewel and suggests that his kinship with the snake and the horse foregrounds the narrative secrecy of Jewel’s genealogy. As Addie Bundren’s monologue reveals, Jewel’s illegitimate father, the Reverend Whitfield, is similarly identified with both the horse, as the animal he rides, and the snake, whose Edenic behavior he parallels in his affair with Addie. 
Lecture 15
Faulkner's As I Lay Dying (Part III)
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Faulkner's As I Lay Dying (Part III)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock concludes her discussion of As I Lay Dying with an analysis of its generic form. Using Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter to anchor her discussion of the American literary tradition, she argues that As I Lay Dying continually negotiates the comic and the tragic genres as we shift from one perspective to another: one character’s comic gain is often another’s tragic loss. She traces the losses and gains of Cash, Jewel, and Darl throughout the novel, showing how their new “balances” by the end reconstitute the Bundren family and draw lines of kinship around the “haves” and “have nots” among family members.
Lecture 16
Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (Part I)
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Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (Part I)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock begins her discussion of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls with an overview of the Spanish Civil War, the historical event at the heart of the novel. She introduces the notion of an “involuntary foreigner” to discuss the fate of Hemingway’s American protagonist Robert Jordan, as well as the Spanish guerillas who are turned into “aliens” within their own country due to their print and technological illiteracies. Professor Dimock concludes by connecting one’s status as an involuntary foreigner to the shape of the future, arguing that these characters have a tenuous claim to a Spain dominated by the Fascists, and to a modernity increasingly dominated by technology.
Lecture 17
Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (Part II)
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Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (Part II)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock continues her discussion of For Whom the Bell Tolls by analyzing the contrast Robert Jordan draws between “distant homes” and the on-site environment of the Spanish Civil War. She juxtaposes his invocations of Paris and Missouri to the rooted communities of the guerillas, and reads analogies of racial and ethnic conflict--specifically, the references to the Moors in Spain and persecuted blacks in America--as a point of tension, an ironic commentary on the coexistence of the distant home and the on-site environment. She concludes with a reading of the American Civil War as a temporally distant home which Jordan tries to recuperate in the present moment of European conflict.
Lecture 18
Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (Part III)
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Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (Part III)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock focuses on the themes of dying and not dying that reappear throughout For Whom the Bell Tolls. Marshaling Elaine Scarry’s argument on the aesthetics of killing, she reads the execution of the Fascists as a representation of both aesthetic and ethical “ugliness” in death. She then turns to a discussion of the tragic-comic dimensions of not dying as depicted in the bullfighter Finito’s refusal to die and the smell of death emanating from the old women in the Madrid marketplace. She concludes with a reading of the word cobarde--coward--as it is applied to both Robert Jordan’s suicidal father and the indomitable Pablo.

Warning: This lecture contains graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.
Lecture 19
Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (Part IV)
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Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (Part IV)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock concludes her discussion of For Whom the Bell Tolls by reading the novel as a narrative of dispossession and repossession. She argues that the rape of Maria, which takes place in front of a barbershop mirror, enacts one type of disempowerment; the end of Robert Jordan’s life represents another, but with the potential for redemption. She shows how Jordan vacillates between a “have” and a “have not,” depending on how ironically one understands Maria’s question “What hast thou?”

Warning: This lecture contains graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.
Lecture 20
Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night (Part I)
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Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night (Part I)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock positions her reading of Tender Is the Night alongside F. Scott Fitzgerald’s career as a Hollywood screenwriter. She shows how the novel borrows narrative techniques from film, particularly flashback, “switchability” on a macro and micro scale, and montage. Invoking the theories of Sergei Eisenstein, she reads scenes of wartime death and individual murder to show how love and war are cross-mapped, superimposed onto one another as part of the narrative fabric of Tender Is the Night.
Lecture 21
Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night (Part II)
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Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night (Part II)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock concludes her discussion of Tender Is the Night with a biographical sketch of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald’s mental instability, the inspiration for the character of Nicole Diver. Invoking the schema of “have” and “have not,” she then shows how Fitzgerald borrows techniques from film to quicken the pace of Dick Diver’s narrative of dispossession. Dimock argues that Fitzgerald uses close-up, cross-cutting, and the speeding up of negative resolutions to strip Dick of his professional identity and to render him empty-handed at the end.
Lecture 22
Faulkner's Light in August (Part I)
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Faulkner's Light in August (Part I)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock focuses her introductory lecture on Faulkner’s Light in August on the “pagan quality” of his protagonist Lena. She argues that Faulkner uses Lena to update the classic story of the unwed mother by fusing comedy with the epic road novel. In doing so, he also updates the Greek tradition of the kindness of strangers, drawing attention to it through certain stylistic markers, including the “switchability” between the protagonist and her supporting cast, the use of gerunds as a linguistic safe haven for Lena, and the allegorical naming of Byron and Burden as social types with scripted trajectories.
Lecture 23
Faulkner's Light in August (Part II)
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Faulkner's Light in August (Part II)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock continues her discussion of Light in August by showing how the kindness of strangers turns into malice in the cases of social reformer Joanna Burden and Reverend Hightower. Whereas that malice assumes comedic tones in the depiction of Joanna’s death, it has more complex valences in the case of Reverend Hightower, who is both ethically delicate towards his neighbors and insensitive to his adulterous wife.  Professor Dimock concludes by observing the kinship between the dual narratives of Lena Grove and Joe Christmas as, respectively, the undramatic and dramatic strands of the novel. Drawing on her reading from last lecture, she shows how both Joe and Lena’s consciousness is marked by the gerund form and a passivity of agency that makes them receptacles for the dramatic actions of others.

Warning: This lecture contains graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.
Lecture 24
Faulkner's Light in August (Part III)
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Faulkner's Light in August (Part III)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock focuses on the unresolved problem of race in Light in August, focusing her discussion on the variety of reflexive and calculated uses of the word “nigger” as a charged term toward Joe Christmas. She shows how the semantic burden of the word varies – used under duress by Joe Brown and the dietician, deliberately made light of by Hightower and Bobbie, fused with the contrary meanings of Calvinist theology by Joanna Burden, and finally ironized by Joe Christmas himself. Dimock uses these multiple uses of the word “nigger” to meditate on the making of racial identities and our collective input into that process.

Warning: This lecture contains graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.
Lecture 25
Faulkner's Light in August (Part IV)
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Faulkner's Light in August (Part IV)
Professor Wai Chee Dimock concludes her discussion of Light in August and the semester by mapping Faulkner’s theology of Calvinist predestination onto race. Using Nella Larsen’s novel Passing as an intertext, she shows how Joe Christmas’s decision to self-blacken expresses his tragic sense of being predestined, of always “coming second.” Moving away from tragedy, Dimock reads Hightower’s delivery of Lena’s baby as inhabiting a liminal space between tragedy and comedy, as Faulkner gives Hightower a second chance at meaningful communal agency.  She finishes by reading Lena Grove and Byron Bunch’s courtship as the comic end of Light in August.

Warning: This lecture contains graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.