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.
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.