Spring 2007

HUMS 656
Don Quixote

Armstrong Roche,Michael

03/12/2007 - 03/16/2007
Monday-Friday 09:00 AM - 05:00 PM

Romance Languages 106

Cervantes is known chiefly for Don Quixote, often described as the first modern novel and fountainhead of one of the great modern myths of individualism. In fact, besides the chivalric novel, Cervantes re-imagined virtually every fashionable genre of his time: verse, theater, novella, the pastoral novel, and the Greek adventure novel. Cervantes's art remains fresh and unsettling, distinguished as it is by its revaluation of humor, invention, make-believe, and play. Seriousness in his textual world is not to be confused with solemnity, the typical ploy of political, religious, and intellectual orthodoxies then as now. Characteristic themes: social reality as artifact or fiction, the counterintuitive or paradoxical nature of truths, the irreducible diversity of taste and perception, the call for consent in politics and love, personal (including gender) identity as a heroic quest.

In this immersion course we will read, discuss, and write about Don Quixote, along with key historical and critical readings provided through electronic reserve or in class. Adaptations of Don Quixote for television, film, and ballet, together with pertinent documentaries (including Terry Gilliam's Lost in La Mancha), will be made available for viewing and oral presentations.

Students should bring a copy to class of the Ormsby translation of Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote. It is still widely regarded as the best English-language translation in a crowded field. Revised by Joseph R. Jones and Kenneth Douglas, it was published most recently as the old Norton critical edition (1981; ISBN: 0393090183). It is now out of print, but used copies are readily available through on-line vendors asuch as Amazon.com. It is important that we all be able to refer to the same edition (with identical pagination) in class.

Course requirements include three short papers (3-5 pp.) due in advance of the first course meeting in March and designed to help you familiarize yourself with the novel; one longer final paper (10-15pp.) due within three weeks of the end of the immersion week (April 9); and one oral presentation that can be used as a trial run for the final paper. Attendance and active participation in class discussion are also crucial for success in this seminar-format course.

We will meet once as a class at the end of January, in order to launch the course and get to know one another. This preliminary class meeting is intended to help you prepare for the one-week session in March. In the January meeting, hand-outs with detailed discussion questions will be provided to guide your reading. Instructions for the short papers and the single oral presentation will also be distributed and (briefly) discussed. To kick off our collective adventure properly we will reserve some time to comment on the novel's delightful prologue and renowned opening chapter.

Before the first class meeting in March, you should have finished reading the novel and given some thought to the discussion questions distributed in January. You are encouraged to keep a running log of other themes, references, difficulties, and serendipitous thoughts and associations as they arise in your reading (either in a separate notebook or in the margins of your copy of the book), so you can draw on them in our class discussions and --if appropriate--for your oral presentation and final paper.

A syllabus for this course is available at:

Michael Armstrong-Roche (B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Harvard University) is associate professor of Romance languages and literatures. He is author of Cervantes's Epic Novel: Empire, Religion, and the Dream Life of Heroes in 'Persiles' (forthcoming from the University of Toronto Press) and is now at work on a book devoted to Cervantes's plays. Click here for more information about Michael Armstrong-Roche.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Miguel de Cervantes, DON QUIXOTE: The John Ormsby Translation, eds. Joseph R. Jones and Kenneth Douglas (The Norton Critical Edition, 1981). Paperback ISBN: 0393090183.

No other textbook is required for the course. Because we will be working closely with the text throughout the term, it is important that all members of the class be literally "on the same page." For this reason, the instructor requests that you buy or borrow this edition and no other for this course. It remains, for many reasons, the best English-language translation. Although this Norton revised Ormsby translation is out-of-print (Norton now uses the Burton Raffel translation for its teaching series, which is NOT suitable for our purposes), it is still readily available through the used-book vendors and in libraries. As of December 13, 2006, eight different vendors on Amazon.com were offering copies for sale (ranging from $5 to $25), and it is likely that some or all of them have multiple of copies available.

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