ENMC981-1 (Schedule # 94282)
University of Virginia
Fall 2004
T 2:00pm-4:30pm (305 CHM)
Mr. David Golumbia
Office: 304B Bryan
Fall 2004 Office Hours: T 1-2, W 12-2, & by appt

The Novel and Nonstandard Languages

Perhaps the archetypal modern written genre, the novel is, at the same time, very often prized when it incorporates precise representations of “ordinary” oral discourse—dialogue—that are judged differently from the rest of novelistic writing. Bakhtin in particular draws attention to the role played by dialogue in the written novel. Dialect or vernacular forms (nonstandard variations on standard modern languages) are familiar throughout the history of novelistic dialogue, so that many exemplary novelists (Dickens, Faulkner, Twain, Joyce, Walker) are seen to a greater or lesser degree as masters of vernacular representation. In this class we will focus on novels published from the 1950s to the present day, largely written in Anglophone countries outside of the US and the UK and also by members of minority communities in the US and UK, that incorporate significant elements of and discourse about nonstandard languages, including Singlish, so-called Caribbean creoles, US Black English, and others. We will focus on nonstandard English for the sake of common class work, but students having experience with other languages are encouraged to participate. We will read novels alongside theoretical works that address the roles and functions of nonstandard languages. We'll read novels by Hwee Hwee Tan, Oonya Kempadoo, Jessica Hagedorn, Alice Walker, R. Zamora Linmark and Lois-Ann Yamanaka, and linguistic and cultural theory by writers including Bakhtin, Homi Bhabha, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, William Labov, James Milroy and Lesley Milroy, Gayatri Spivak, Michael de Graaf, and Arjuna Parakrama. Finally, we will return to read Huckleberry Finn, arguably one of the most important sites for the meeting of vernaculars and the written novel. Requirements: final research paper of 20-25pp., seminar presentations, course participation. Limited to graduate students.


Books (at UVa Bookstore)

Theoretical Works

Book (at UVa Bookstore)
Articles (in toolkit)