Narratives: The Novella

“One of the greatest functions of art is to help us imagine what it is to be like not ourselves, what it is like to be someone or something else, what it is like to live in another skin, what it is like to live in another body, and in that sense to surpass ourselves, to go out beyond ourselves.”

–Adrienne Rich

In this course, we’ll strengthen our understanding of the way narrative develops, functions, and shapes writing over time through a selection of longer-form fiction readings. More specifically, we’ll analyze and discuss four novellas—by George Saunders, Philip Roth, James Baldwin, and Albert Camus—and ask of each how the plot structure, character development, and narrative arc are developed and sustained throughout the duration of the work. We’ll consider, too, the value and function of the novella form and will no doubt debate whether such a unique qualifier is even necessary to distinguish a text longer than a short story, certainly, but shorter than a novel. Above all, we’ll continue to deepen our understanding of narrative, strengthen our abilities as close readers and writers, and develop a unique space and ability to converse about interpretation, art, and literature.

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