VIC 162 Course Syllabus

VIC 162H: Cultural Forms and their Meanings:
Cinema, Literature & the Modern Mind

Vic One Progam - Frye Stream

Professor: David Gilmour
Location: NF 332
Time: Mondays 4:00pm- 6:00pm
Office Hours: Tuesday: 2-3:30 p.m. (or by appointment)
Office: Northrop Frye, room 215

The purpose of this course is to look at two extreme forms of human experience: the romantic imagination and what might be called “urban rot.” By romantic imagination, I mean simply an account of whom we love or desire, and why. Is it a condition or a choice? With stories like Raymond Carver's "Why Don't You Dance?", we are going to ask ourselves the age-old question – Do we want things because we can’t have them? Can possession and desire co-exist?

Through movies like Woody Allen's buried treasure, Crimes and Misdemeanours and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, we are going to look at those creatures who are the creation of a big city, the manifestations of which can range from beautiful to grotesque. 

N.B. All films will be screened in class. Students are advised to rent the DVD but it is not required.


Required Reading



September 10:
Course discussion: Introduction to VIC162H.
Class reading aloud: Raymond Carver: “Why Don’t You Dance?”

September 17:
Raymond Carver “Everything Stuck to Him.” “Sacks” or “Tell the Women We’re Going.”
Film: In-class viewing of Crimes and Misdemeanours (1988.)

September 24:
Film: Conclusion to Crimes and Misdemeanours (1988.)
Reaction Papers to film.

October 1:
Anton Chekhov’s “A Trifle from Life.” “Difficult People.” (Class reader)
Assign term essay. Short Capote documentary.

October 8:
Reaction papers to: Chekhov’s “The Kiss” and Capote’s “Shut a Final Door.”
In class viewing of Susanne Bier’s After the Wedding (2006).

October 15:
Film: Conclusion to: After the Wedding reaction papers.

October 22:
Truman Capote’s Mojave (class reader); poetry selection (class reader).

October 29:
Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer

November 5:
Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer

November 12: No class.

November 19:
Quiz on work covered so far.
Reaction paper to Elmore Leonard’s “When the Women Come Out to Dance.

November 26:
Elmore Leonard’s “When the Women Come out to Dance.” Review of term projects.

December 3:
Review continued.
Essays due (by 5pm)

December 5:
Make-up class: Final Test.

Grading Scheme:
Attendance & Participation: 25% (includes announced quizzes);
Test: 20%;
Essay: 30%;
Final test: 25%.
* Late penalty for assignments is a grade per day

N.B. (Students who come to class after 4:10 will not be allowed to enter until the mid-class break)


Some Suggested Secondary References

Carver, Raymond; What We Talk About When We talk About Love; New York, Vintage, 1989. Terrific collection of lean, cut-down gems. Perhaps Carver’s best collection.

Clarke, Gerald, Capote: A Biography, New York, Simon and Shuster, 1988: a gorgeously written, intelligent and gossipy bio. A delight.

Lax, Eric, Conversations with Woody Allen. New York, Knopf, 2007. More interesting, more revelatory than any traditional biography.

Leonard, Elmore Glitz. New York, Delacorte; 1985. Bad fun. An excellent read by America’s best crime writer. Superb dialogue.

Malcolm, Janet. Reading Chekhov: A Critical Journey, New York: Random House, 2002 (Eccentric and astute.)

Simmons, Ernest J. Chekhov: A Biography. Boston, Little, Brown, 1962. (Still the best of the bunch.)

Woods, James. The Broken Estate: Essays on Literature and Belief. New York: Random House, 1999. (Superb essay on Chekhov.)

Current Students