Analyzing Fiction: The Human Condition

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSOL2EN3154

Semester and Year Offered: III semester. MS 2021

Course Coordinator and Team: Bodh Prakash

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None


Aim: The objective of the course is to familiarize students with a plethora of human complexities and their expression through a deep understanding of fictional narratives. It also aims to sensitize us both to our own unwitting contribution in the creation of subjectivities that experience social and relational marginalities as well as become a witness to our own inner world as we bear testimony to the complex hidden parts of fictional characters who are but a reflection of our own unknown, unacknowledged parts of self.

The course will broadly examine themes related to beauty and ugliness, ability and disability, the struggle between responsibility and freedom, truth and dishonesty, love and violation, humility and strength, crime and punishment, racism and marginality, ego and the complete annihilation of self, the quest for the spiritual, guilt, atonement and confession, the intense desire to love and the complete inability to love, desire and its complete negation.

Selections will be made from the following list. Only a few of the text, listed below will be taken up for detailed analysis and study in class. The rest of the texts will be analyzed by students during their presentations and in the process of writing term papers.

Module 1: Introduction to themes and approaches

The first week will orient students towards thinking about texts as situated within zones of moral ambiguities and psycho-social complexities and also how the historical, psychoanalytical and feminist approaches enable a rich and reflective engagement with literary texts.

Module 2: Women and Desire

  • Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch
  • Elena Ferrante, The Days of Abandonment
  • Ismat Chughtai, The Crooked Line

Module 3 : Existential awareness

  • Rajinder Singh Bedi “Lajwanti”
  • Camus, The Outsider
  • Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
  • Mohan Rakesh, “Miss Paul”
  • Franz Kafka, “Metamorphosis”

Other texts

  • Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Meek one”
  • Flaubert, Madame Bovary
  • Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge
  • J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
  • Albert Camus, The Fall
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
  • D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers
  • Manto, “Thanda Gosh”
  • Gurdial Singh, Half Moon Night
  • Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
  • Mahasweta Devi, “Bayen”
  • Reading list: The readings are included in the modules.

Assessment structure (modes and frequency of assessments)

  • Writing assignments 10%
  • Class presentation – 20%
  • Term paper – 30%
  • Class participation 10 %
  • End semester exam - 30 %