prajna  College:  Arts & Letters
Dept.:  English 
Course:  English 499: contemporary developments: Asian literature in English
When:  Spring
Where:  LA 120
Credit:
   3 hrs.
Instructor:  John Rothfork
Office:  Babbitt Academic Annex 324
Phone: 928.523.0559
Mail: john.rothfork@nau.edu  Please send email using the BB mail tool. 
Homepage:
 http://oak.ucc.nau.edu/jgr6
Prerequisites: ENG 105 or HON 190 or HON 191

Description: The focus of this course is on Asian literature written in English. Each of the fiction authors is involved in a target culture that their fiction illustrates. These are major authors.

  • China: Timothy Mo, Lisa See, Yiyun Li
  • India: R.K. Narayan, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
  • Japan: Kazuo Ishiguro

 In choosing to write in English, these authors address an American & world audience. Few Americans are familiar with the cultures that these authors presume in inventing characters & developing plots. A short-cut or useful device in defining these cultures, or concerns in these cultures, is offered by comparative religion to understand something of Confucianism, Buddhism, & Hinduism, which, of course, continue to largely define the cultures where they are dominant. The secondary works by Benedict, Ames, Kakar, Wilson, & Kasulis help define these concerns & outlooks.

Texts:

snow flower
Snow Flower & the Secret Fan
Lisa See
Amazon: (Kindle)
Random House, 2009
Required
(Chinese-American)

Movie DVD: Snow Flower & the Secret Fan
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
Yiyun Li
Amazon (Kindle)
Random, 2005

(Chinese-American)
monkey king The Monkey King
Timothy Mo
Amazon
William Morrow, 1986
$1 used
Required
(Chinese-British)

"Confucianism in Timothy Mo's The Monkey King," Tamkang Review 18.1-4 (Taipei; 1987-8): 403-21. Reprinted in World Literature Written in English, 29.2 (Autumn 1989; Guleph University, Canada): 50-61.
chrysanthemum & sword
The Chrysanthemum & the Sword
Ruth Benedict
Amazon (Kindle)
Mariner, 2006. First published, 1946.
Required
(Confucianism)

http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~jgr6/benedict.htm
remains of the day The Remains of the Day
Amazon: (Kindle)
Vintage, 1990
Required
(Japan; Confucianism/Buddhism)
"Zen Comedy in Postcolonial Literature: Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day," Mosaic 29.1 (1996, University of Manitoba): 79-102.

Movie DVD: Remains of the Day
artist of the floating world An Artist of the Floating World
Amazon: (Kindle)
Vintage, 1989
Required
(Buddhism)

"Zen Comedy in Postcolonial Literature: Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day," Mosaic 29.1 (1996, University of Manitoba): 79-102.
the guide The Guide
Amazon: (Kindle)
Penguin, 2006.  First published, 1958.
Required
(Hindu)

"Hindu Mysticism in the Twentieth Century: R. K. Narayan’s The Guide," Philological Quarterly, 62.1 (Winter 1983; University of Iowa): 31-43.
mr sampath Mr Sampath
Amazon: (Kindle)
Vintage, 2000. First published, 1948.
Required
(Hindu)
Heat & Dust
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Amazon,
1999 reprint.  1975 Booker Prize Winner.
(Hindu)

"God with an Elephant Head: Pilgrimage to India." Prairie Schooner, 62.3 ((1988): 92-103.

Movie DVD: Heat & Dust
Recommended background reading for the ambitious:
Product Details An Insular Possession
Timothy Mo
Amazon,
This novel offers a fictional history of Hong Kong as a British colony
2002
Not Required
thinking through confucius Thinking Through Confucius
Roger Ames & David Hall
Amazon
SUNY, 1987
Recommended
(Confucianism)
inner world The Inner World
Sudhir Kakar
Amazon
Random, 2006
Recommended
(Hindu)
The Hindu Quest for the Perfection of Man
Troy Organ Wilson
Amazon
Random, 2006
Recommended
(Hindu)
Zen Action: Zen Person
T.P. Kasulis
Amazon
University of Hawaii Press, 1989
Recommended
(Buddhism)

Assignments

Reactions to & analysis of one of the works in each of the 3 cultural areas. These are:

  • Confucianism: 30%
    • Snow Flower & the Secret Fan
    • A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
    • The Monkey King
    • An Insular Possession
  • Buddhism: 30%
    • Remains of the Day
    • An Artist of the Floating World
  • Hindu: 30%
    • Mr Sampath
    • The Guide
    • Heat & Dust

Each essay should be 1,000 words or more. Reaction papers assume that you have personal experience in the target culture to rely on in making judgments & offering explanations. Analytic papers probably rely more on secondary works, such as the 3 works by Benedict, Ames, & Kakar.

Active participation in the classroom discussion of the essays & discussion posts: 10%

Due Dates:  Announced in class.

Links to other relevant sources:

Links to resources on cultural background from a course I taught on non-Western literature:

 Links to co-authored short stories set in India:

  • "Avantara Mantra," Short Story International, 78 (1990): 463-80.

  • "Moksha," Short Story International, 57 (1986): 75-86.

 

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