English 624: Fall 2005
Virginia Commonwealth University
Professor Bryant Mangum
The New Yorker
August 25, 2005
GOINGS ON ABOUT TOWN
We will begin our first class of each week with brief general announcements about what will be up for the coming week and with things of general interest to members of the seminar.
THE TALK OF THE TOWN
This will be the heading under which we will group your "Talk" presentations (described on the assignment sheet as "Historical/Anecdotal Talk and Paper"). Some weeks we will have none of these; other weeks we may have several.
[FEATURES: FACT /FICTION]
Under this heading (The New Yorker itself does not give a general heading for what is in essence the central part of each issue) we will include two things: (1) Your "Profile" presentations (described on the assignment sheet as "Seminar Presentations)—to include a discussion your author, one story by your author that we will all have read before the day of your presentation (you will lead the discussion), and bibliographical information about the author-- and (2) Our discussions of the fiction in the current issue. We will try to discuss one current story per week (to be announced as soon as the issue has come out each week).
Here we are going to develop our ideas about what constitutes a "New Yorker" story. We will be doing this by discussing the works of authors whose names have come to be associated with the magazine, typically writers who have published regularly in the The New Yorker. We will attempt to have at least one or two "representative authors" from each decade from 1925 to the present. In the early part of the semester we will consider the stories of writers such as Dorothy Parker, E.B. White, James Thurber, John O’Hara As the semester progresses we will include writers such as John Cheever, J.D. Salinger—and then Raymond Carver, Jamaica Kincaid. In most cases I will either provide the texts for the works discussed here (or a way to find them easily), or we will have the texts (from the book list) for the Salinger, Carver, Kincaid works. Also, there may be, in some cases, overlap between this segment of the class and your profiles when the author you have selected for your profile is also a "representative" New Yorker writer. We will deal with this on a case-by-case basis.
This segment of the class will involve occasional reading and discussion of poems in the current issue of The New Yorker, and we (with the help of poets in the class) will try also to gain a sense historically of what a "New Yorker" poem is and has been (if indeed there is such a thing as a New Yorker poem)