Course Detail

195:345: Serial Storytelling: From Dostoevsky to the Wire

This course investigates serial narrative as a modern mode of storytelling, from the emergence of the serialized novel in 19th-century Europe and Russia up through contemporary American serial television and podcasts. Through discussions of serial narratives from multiple times and in multiple media, we will explore the enduring power of this versatile narrative form — in particular, its capacity to interweave fiction with the course of current events and the rhythms of everyday life. Core texts include Charles Dickens’s pioneering first serialized novel, Oliver Twist (1837-39); a masterpiece of the European serialized novel at its height, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (1866); and two modern-day evolutions of serial narrative, David Simon’s HBO series The Wire (2004-2008) and Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder’s podcast Serial (2014-2015). Occasional critical readings also suggested or assigned. Fulfills Core requirement WCr. All readings and discussions in English. Cross-listing 01:860:345.

Course materials:

  • C. Dickens, Oliver Twist, edited by K. Tillotson and S. Gill. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. Press (Oxford World’s Classics), 2008. ISBN: 9780199536269
  • F. Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, translated by O. Ready. London and New York: Penguin, 2014. ISBN: 9780143107637
  • The Wire (Season One), created by D. Simon. HBO Video, 2004. (NB: A limited number of full episodes may be available for streaming through the course site on Sakai. For additional episodes, you will need to view the discs on reserve at Alexander Library, buy or rent a copy of Season 1 on DVD, or access Season 1 using a digital subscription method of your choice.)
  • Serial (Season One), created by S. Koenig and J. Snyder. Chicago Public Media, 2014. (Free access at https://serialpodcast.org/season-one ).

Requirements and grade distribution:
Attendance and Participation: 15%
Serial Response Diary (weekly 1-page entries): 10%
Oral Presentation: 5%
Paper 1 (4 pp.): 10%
Revision of Paper 1 (5 pp.): 15%
Paper 2 (5-6 pp.): 20%
Revision of Paper 2 (7-8 pp.): 25%