My fake college syllabus
The following syllabus is for my new class, English 401: The Short Novel, meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:10-2:50pm.
In this class, we will analyze some of World Literature’s greatest short novels in an attempt to interrogate the essence of plot and character while reading as few words as possible. Each class session will begin with a student presentation of 15 to 20 minutes, so we’re looking at an effective class time of about an hour. I’d love to give you a five-minute break halfway through the period, with the tacit understanding that we actually blow 15, but then I’d have to pretend I didn’t notice when 36% of you didn’t bother to come back. Or I’d have to pass around the attendance sheet again, which is a major pain in the ass.
After the student presentation, which should cover structure and theme but will seldom rise above rote plot summary, I will provide whatever historical and biographical context is both critical to our understanding of the book and available on Wikipedia. But I will sound so authoritative and well-versed that you’d never know this, even if you had the book’s Wikipedia page open on the laptop you’re pretending to take notes on, rather than your Facebook newsfeed.