EN498: A Course About Nothing

Dr. Paul Harris

Course Syllabus

This course will be about nothing, really. Nothing will matter, indeed nothing will be the core of the matter and even understood to be the source of all matter. If this makes your mind blank, don't be concerned--there is nothing to worry about. We will think about nothing in different guises: nothing in relation to creation (why is there something rather than nothing?); nothing in relation to culture (what happens when nothing is given a name?); nothing in relation to literature (how can literature signify nothing?). By the end, after many brow-creased nights contemplating naughts, some one will ask what's the matter, and you'll say, "oh, nothing."

Course Readings:
1/7 Intro to course 3/10 Benabou, Why I Haven't Written Any of My Books
1/13 Genesis; Chuang Tzu excerpts  3/17 Pound, Stein, Hemingway, "Clean, Well-Lighted Place"
1/20 Lucretius (excerpts, Bk.1) 3/24 Sartre excerpts
1/27 King Lear  3/31 Beckett,"Texts for Nothing"
2/3 Brian Rotman, Signifying Nothing....   4/7 Beckett, Endgame
2/10 Paintings and Signifying Nothing  4/14 Perec, A Void
2/17 Poe, "The Purloined Letter"   4/21 Perec & Benabou discussion (OULIPO)
2/24 Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"  4/28 Course Overview

Class Work:

Two essays (6-8pp.) (20% each)

Midterm/final exams: take-home essay format (25% each)

In Class work: 10%

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