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.
This course examines major works by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner, exploring their interconnections on three analytic scales: the macro history of the United States and the world; the formal and stylistic innovations of modernism; and the small details of sensory input and psychic life.
Warning: Some of the lectures in this course contain graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.