30:387 Alternate Worlds

The Road

Fall 2013

Instructor: Dr. Reinhold Kramer

109 Original Building/Clark Hall

727-7344 kramer@brandonu.ca

Office hours: 2:40-3:30 p.m.

(Mon., Wed., Thur.)



Course Description:

Long before evolutionary literary theorists argued for the adaptive value of fictions cognitive mapping and scenario-spinning, writers experimented with imagined futures, alternate histories, and fragmented selves.  The last 40 years, in particular, have seen a rich series of fictive worlds that are neither completely fantastic nor fully representative of the world we inhabit. Works to be studied could include OBrien, Going After Cacciato; Rushdie, Midnight’s Children; Bakis, Lives of the Monster Dogs; Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union; McCarthy, The Road.  We will also study at least two films, possibly Wenders & Handke, Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin) and Jeunet & Laurant, Amélie (Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain). Titles may change with little notice.



1.   Class Participation                                                                                     10%

2.   Reading Tests (on entire novels*)  10, 19 Sept.;  8 Oct.;  5, 26 Nov.     10%

3    Mid-term Test                                 24 October                                         20%

4.   Essay  (10-12 pages)                     19 November                                     20%

5.   Final Exam                                      16 December 2-4 p.m.                      40%

Note:  There may be penalties for lateness, depending upon circumstances.  Reading tests cannot be postponed, and missed tests cannot be rewritten without a doctor’s note or other documentation.  (*Each reading test covers the entire novel; the only exception is Cloud Atlas, for which the first reading test covers pp. 1-236 and the second reading test covers pp. 237-509.)  Cite all your sources – assignments containing plagiarism will be graded “0” and will result in disciplinary action.  See BU General Calendar 4.2.2 “Academic Integrity.”  No cell phones in class.

For the very shy:  in place of “class participation” you may hand in, 5 times during the course, short (1 page, double-spaced, typed) commentaries, not plot summaries, on the text under discussion that day. These commentaries must be handed in before the text is discussed in class and are worth 2% each.  No commentaries will be accepted after class discussions for any reason.

It’s possible that a student may find readings and/or discussions of controversial matters troubling.  If so, please contact the instructor immediately for alternative assignments or an alternative course.



Outstanding    A+  90 & up                A    84-89        A-   80-83

Good               B+ 77-79                     B   74-76         B-  70-73

Satisfactory     C+ 67-69                     C   64-66         C-  60-63

Weak               D+ 57-59                     D   54-56         D-  50-53

Inadequate      F 0-49



Chabon, Michael.  The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, 2007.

McCarthy, Cormac.  The Road, 2006.

Mitchell, David.  Cloud Atlas, 2004.

Norman, Colin.  Writing Essays:  A Short Guide.  2nd ed.  Queen’s. (optional)

O’Brien, Tim.  Going After Cacciato, 1978.



Sept. 5                        Introduction

Sept. 10 – 26              David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)

Sept. 10  Reading test p. 1 – 236

Sept. 19  Reading test p. 237 – 509

Oct. 1 – 3                    Wim Wenders & Peter Handke, Wings of Desire

(Der Himmel über Berlin; 1987) (2:08)

*Oct. 1st class runs from 10:10 – 12:30

Oct. 8 – 22                  Tim O’Brien, Going After Cacciato (1978)

Oct. 24                        Mid-term Test

Oct. 29 – 31                Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Guillaume Laurant, Amélie

(Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain; 2001) (2:02)

*Oct. 29th class  runs from 10:10 – 12:30

Nov. 5 – 7                   Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (2007)

Nov. 12                       Study break (no class)

Nov. 14 – 21               Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (cont.)

Nov. 19                       Essay due

Nov. 26 – Dec. 5         Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006); Review

Dec. 16, 2-4 p.m.      Final Exam