Descriptions of My Courses offered at Wesleyan and elsewhere since 2002


HUMS 652 Ulysses: James Joyce and the Art of the Novel

Spring 2006
No other modern novel has been as controversial or as influential as Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses. Regarded by many as the greatest novel of the 20th-century, Ulysses fundamentally changed the novel form, and we are still learning to cope with the creative implications of Joyce’s remarkable modern epic constructed out of the details of a single day in the life of Dublin.
Telemachiad 1-3.doc, 758.50 Kb
Complete section-by-section notes on the novel
Wanderings 11-15.doc, 1,452.50 Kb
Complete section-by-section notes on Ulysses
Nostos 16-18.doc, 47.00 Kb
Complete section-by-section notes on Ulysses.
Wanderings 4-10.doc, 7,976.00 Kb
Complete section-by-sections notes on Ulysses.
HUMS 652 Ulysses: James Joyce and the Art of the NovelUlysses can be read as a puzzle to be solved; our focus, however, will be on the novel as a compelling human drama, framed by the experiences of Joyce’s hero, Leopold Bloom, a Dublin Jew, and Joyce’s modern version of Homer’s Odysseus.

Joyce once famously declared, "The only demand I make of my readers is that he should devote his whole life to reading my works." We will give Ulysses a full week, focusing on the sights and sounds of a single day, June 16, 1904,in Dublin, to achieve full immersion into Joyce’s verbal labyrinth. With this course, students will encounter three of the greatest characters in fiction: Stephen Dedalus, the aspiring artist in search of the means to transcend the nets of family, church, and nation that keep him paralyzed in Dublin; Leopold Bloom, perhaps the most wholly embodied character in literature; and Molly Bloom, Joyce’s unfaithful Penelope who anchors the novel in "warm, fullblooded life." In telling their stories (and the stories of countless fellow Dubliners) Joyce refashioned the operating system of the novel in fundamental ways. In order to know, appreciate, and enjoy modern fiction one must come to grips with Ulysses.

This remarkable novel is a challenge, and the course offers guidance: chapter by chapter as well as to the wider context of Joyce’s life and times, artistic development; and the history of the most infamous novel in the 20th century. On the theory that Joyce cannot be read, only reread, students should first plunge into the text prior to the March course. During students’ first-time reading of Ulysses, before the week of classes in March, assistance will be available in the form of a recording of the full, unabridged text of Ulysses; a chapter-by-chapter series of audio lectures by Professor James A.W. Heffernan; the instructor’s own chapter-by-chapter set of notes, and more.

To keep students on task, advance assignments will include collecting and submitting biographical evidence from the text to serve as the basis for character analyses of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold and Molly Bloom. The Wesleyan Blackboard system will be used to post queries and allow students to communicate with one another. During the immersion week, students will share in facilitation of class discussions and complete preliminary work on writing assignments that will be due a week after the immersion class has ended. Lectures and discussion will be supplemented by screening of several Joyce- and Ulysses-related films.