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.
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.