Thursday, 26 March 2009

Zadie's Sensibility

British author Zadie Smith (White Teeth; On Beauty) is teaching a seminar this spring at Columbia University in New York.  The seminar is entitled 'Sense and Sensibility'.  You can read about it on several on-line sites:

The Columbia Writing Courses site (about 2/3rds of the way down)

Below is the course description supplied by Columbia, together with the list I've compiled from all sources of the reading list's books (22 books in all; although Book Culture states there to be only 15 - hmmm...).

First is the list on Columbia's website, followed by the reported additional works to be read over the course of the seminar.

"Sense and Sensibility


Zadie Smith

What does 'having a sensibility', literary or otherwise, mean? Is it something one acquires, something innate, or something else again? We're going to read a selection of very good 20th century novels (and one book of poems) concentrating on whatever is most particular to them, in the hope that this might help us understand whatever is most particular to us. The reading list is long* and heterogeneous in the hope of encouraging sympathy for a broad range of literary sensibilities regardless of what our own natural inclinations may be. Students will give short presentations, and at the end of the course will write a piece of fiction, or a piece of literary criticism, of at least five pages.

The course will be punctuated by secondary readings of literary criticism and philosophy.

* Most of the novels are short.

Among the books we will read:

A Room With a View - E.M. Forster

The Complete Short Stories - Franz Kafka

Pnin - Vladimir Nabokov

Frost - Thomas Bernhard

The Book of Daniel - EL Doctorow

Pastoralia - George Saunders

Remainder - Tom McCarthy

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men - David Foster Wallace

The Rings of Saturn - W.G. Sebald

The Atrocity Exhibition - JG Ballard

Selected readings from - George Orwell

My Loose Thread - Dennis Cooper

Eleven Kinds of Loneliness - Richard Yates"

Additionally reported to be on the reading list:

Catholics - Brian Moore

Crash - J.G. Ballard

An Experiment in Love - Hilary Mantel

Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader - David Lodge

The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark

The Loser - Thomas Bernhard

Reader's Block - David Markson

The Quiet American - Graham Greene

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