A class about stories

Here’s the prologue to, the rationale for our required narratives class:


The world is so full of a number of things,

I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

“A Happy Thought,” R.L. Stevenson, A Child’s Garden of Verses


The objective of this class is to explore a range of story types that you should all know about.  You have different career aspirations, but practitioners and scholars alike will want to be able to read, comprehend, and adapt/implement this array of narrative methods.  At its core, Narrative Structures seeks to expand students’ notions of what is available to and what is possible for them.  It wants you to be more versatile and agile.  To that end we will identify a number of storytelling registers, consider their historical and theoretical roots, and explore the components, techniques and outcomes that pertain to their application and execution.

A further goal has to do with the relation between the efforts we make and the rewards we reap.  We want to further/develop our ability to do intellectual work.  Our readings are enjoyable, but they will also be challenging.  The same will be true of our lectures and class discussions.  In TMA 114 much will be expected of you, and you will have to stretch your mental muscles in ways to which you may not be accustomed.  But you can have every confidence that the law of the harvest applies here.  If you sow, you will reap, richly, in any number of ways.

This course has another, more basic objective.  It is quite simple and straightforward, and it will be easily accomplished if we attend, participate, and do the assigned work.  As mentioned, this semester we will read and see a wide range and a considerable number of exemplary, outstanding, and beautiful texts.  As we do so we will find engagement that is intellectual, emotional, and spiritual.  Our efforts, and the shared observations and conversations that emerge therefrom, will leave us informed, invigorated, and happy.


And this is where the discussion starts:

Week 1: Foundations/ Didactic Narrative

Read: Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism; Andersen, The Red Shoes, Five Peas from the Same Pod, “Something,” The Butterfly, The Gardener and his Master; Grimm, The Fisherman and his Wife, The Old Man and his Grandson; Melville, The Piazza; Perrault, The Fairies, The Ridiculous Wishes; Tolstoy, How Much Land Does a Man Need?, Where Love is, God Is, Two Old Men


Listen: Aretha Franklin, “Do Right Woman,” Neil Young, “Let’s Impeach the President”


View: McLaren, Neighbors, Dorfman, Flawed; Lumet, 12 Angry Men


Discuss: justice and mercy, criticism and the Golden Rule, literacy and creativity, theory and practice, appropriation/exploitation/appreciation; theme in the hierarchy of dramatic elements, Sunday School, advertising and propaganda, fable and melodrama, programs and people/principles and praxis


Supplementary, books: Anonymous, Everyman, Blake, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Bunyan, A Pilgrim’s Progress, Dickens, Oliver Twist, Jacques, Redwall, Kaiser, From Morn to Midnight, Kozol, Amazing Grace, Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lessing, Nathan the Wise, Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Martel, The Life of Pi, Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, Nesbit, Five Children and It, Reid-Banks, The Indian in the Cupboard, Sartre, No Exit, Sheldon, In His Steps, Shelley, Frankenstein, Sinclair, The Jungle, Spinelli, Stargirl, Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Grey, Wilder, Little House on the Prairie


Supplementary, films: Annaud, Two Brothers, Arnold, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Attenborough, Gandhi, Beaudine, Little Annie Rooney/Sparrows, Bird, Ratatouille, Borzage, Street Angel, Bridges, The China Syndrome, Buñuel, Nazarin, Burger, Limitless, Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life, Coppola, Tucker: the Man and his Dream, Curtiz, Angels with Dirty Faces, Dassin, Brute Force, Daves, Broken Arrow, DeMille, King of Kings, Dmytryk, Crossfire, Eisenstein, Strike/Battleship Potemkin, Fincher, The Game, Fleischer, Fantastic Voyage, Ford, Three Bad Men/Wee Willie Winkie, Fuller, Shock Corridor, Gance, J’Accuse (I and II), Griffith, Intolerance, Hallstrom, The Cider House Rules, Helm, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Hitchcock, Foreign Correspondent, Joffé, The Killing Fields, Kaurismaki. Le Havre, Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut, Lamorisse, The Red Balloon, Launder, Millions Like Us, Low, The Hutterites, Lumet, 12 Angry Men, Malle, Au Revoir les Enfants, Mangold, 3:10 to Yuma, Mann, El Cid, Miller, Babe,  A Pig in the City, Nakagawa, Jigoku, Newmeyer, Grandma’s Boy, Niblo, Ben Hur, Osborne/Stevenson, Kung Fu Panda, Polanski, Tess, Rees, The Brave Little Toaster, Reiner, The Sure Thing, Reitman, Dave, Renoir, Grand Illusion, Robbins, Dead Man Walking, Rossellini, The Age of the Medici, Scorcese, Hugo, Sharpsteen, Pinocchio, Soderbergh, Traffic, Spielberg, Amistad/The Terminal, Stone, Platoon, Sturges, Bad Day at Black Rock, Sturges, Christmas in July, Taurog, Boys Town, Taylor, The Freshman, Tourneur, The Bluebird, Wellman, The Ox-bow Incident/Yellow Sky, Welles, The Magnificent Ambersons, Wise, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Wyler, Mrs. Miniver, Zemeckis, Flight, Zinneman, A Man for All Seasons


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