English Lecture 3: Narration and Point of View
Today’s lecture: Introducing narrative and point of view in fiction
Welcome to Week 3 of our course Introduction to Literature.
This week we will examine literary ways of understanding narration and point of view in fiction.
In today’s lecture,I will introduce you to our three fiction texts, outline some of the key literary concepts about narration and point of view, and introduce some of the different critical theoretical ways of understanding these concepts, using examples from this week’s readings.
At the end of the lecture, I will give you this week’s written assignment, a short exercise on narrative and point of view. I will also remind you about this week’s workshop discussions, and the readings for next week’s lecture.
In this week’s seminars, I will ask you to complete the comprehension exercises and join in the group discussions that follow from your reading and listening about narrative and point of view. We will also review the results of last week’s class survey on literary genres.
Part One: Introducing some key concepts and our 3 example texts
OK, so let’s start part one of this week’s lecture here:
For today’s class, we will begin by working with three writers whose works are regarded as important parts of American and American-Chinese literary culture. The works we will read and discuss are:
- Jay McInerney: an extract from his novel Bright Lights, Big City (1984)
- Paul Beatty: extracts from his novel The Sellout (2016)
- Yan Geling: extracts from her novel The Flowers of WarÂ (2012)
(For today’s class you will have read the extracts that were provided in aÂ handout at the end of last week’s lecture and posted on your learning materials page. We have included below in today’s online lecture, in case you want to refer to them again).
First, listen to this audio file introducing today’s authors and their works, and the film versions that have been made of some of their fiction.
You can also follow the audio by reading this transcript.Now, let’s begin to learn some of the key concepts of narration and point of view.
The nuts and bolts of narration and point of view
Please read this first power point presentation, (for best viewing, select reading view under the view button). Be sure to play the audio files as you read.
The presentation introduced some of the key literary concepts on narrative and point of view. Take a moment to review points 1-4, and 7 in this Narration and point of view concepts table.
Once you have finished reading and listening to the presentation and reviewed the concepts table.
Let’s have a ten minute break, and then proceed to part two of this lecture, where we will begin to employ the concepts in our reading and analysis of today’s fictional texts
Part Two: Using the concepts to understand the readings
First, please carefully listen to the Audio Player
The audio file refers to this excerpt from the Flowers of War.
Once you have listened to the file, please work in pairs to complete the following quick comprehension quiz (one of you can record your answers on your notepaper). Ill give you five minutes, then we’ll open it up for a group discussion.
Comprehension Quiz: Narrative and point of view in The Flowers of War
a.What kind of narration is being used in Yan’s novel?
b. What would have changed if the aunt had been the narrator, telling the story as she remembered it at a much later time (as in Yan’s original Mandarin version, 13 Flowers of Nanking?)
c. Are there any focal characters in the extract? If so, who?
d. Other than the Flowers of War, can you think of some fictional narratives that tell a national story?
e. How do different narrators and points of view affect the telling and reading of national narratives?
OK, next please read this second power point presentation, (for best viewing, select reading view under the view button).
Take a moment to review point 6 in the Narration and point of view concepts table. This presentation relates to the extract from Bright Lights Big City (the novel’s first chapter).
Be sure to follow the link provided to listen to Jay McInerney’s reading of an extract from his second person narrative At six a.m. do you know where you are? (on slide 2).
After we’ve all finished reading let’s open it up for a group discussion (5 mins) on this question: How did you experience the story’s second person narration? Who is the youth the narrator addresses? Who is the narrator?
Then read the third power point presentation. Be sure to play the audio file (on slide 5).Â Take a moment to review points 5, 8, and 9Â in the Narration and point of view concepts table.
The presentation relates to this extract from The Sellout. We will discuss it further in this week’s seminars.
OK, now let’s now look at your homework for this week.
Written Comprehension exercise (due next week).
For this written comprehension exercise, you should read one of the following extracts:
- an excerpt from Charles Dickens Great Expectations (1860)
- an excerpt from F Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby (1925)
Part A) Can you give your chosen reading extract a close reading, identifying how the writing shifts between the perspective and values of the implied author and the narrator’s voice and focus? Write your ideas in the form of a bullet point list (at least 6 points), and then give it to your paired partner to read, while you read their bullet point list. Then you should each write your comments on each other’s close-readings.
Part B) Then see if you can provide a critical analysis that pays attention to the context. How might some knowledge of this historical period and the life of Charles Dickens potentially add to understanding this passage? Once again, write your ideas in the form of a bullet point list (at least 6 points), and then give it to your partner to read, while you read theirs. Again, you should each write your comments on each other’s critical-readings.
Submit Part A And B together using the online submission page. Make sure your partner’s comments are included (handwritten on the page or typed on a copy of your page).
You may find it helpful to listen to this audio file on the two novelists, the novels, and their historical contexts.
Next week we will have another group discussion, based on your written work. What did you find in your close readings and critical readings? How do the theoretical methods compare?
Finally, two reminders:
- In this week’s small group seminars, we will review our knowledge of narrative and point of view. Make sure you have done the readings, including the excerpt from Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, and Chapter Two Of The Norton Introduction to Literature, including one of the three short stories.
- The readings for next week’s lecture on character includes chapter three of The Norton Introduction to Literature. Please read at least one of the short stories by Toni Morrison, and David Foster Wallace. Please also read the following extracts (we will discuss them in the lecture):
- An excerpt from Thomas Mullen’s novel Dark Town
- An excerpt from F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby