English 392: Studies in a Major Figure
James Joyce: Ulysses, a Literary and Historical Reading
Department of English & University Library, University of Victoria
Dr. J. Matthew Huculak
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James Joyce’s Ulysses is often called the greatest book of the 20th century (it might be) as well as the most dangerous and famous novel of its time. Joyce’s epic has scandalized, revolutionized, and tantalized entire generations of readers. It is a work that was quickly banned across the globe for its honest dealing with human emotions and behaviors—from sex to love, from pride to regret, the narrators of Ulysses expose all of the innermost thoughts of the characters. At times, it can still shock readers today. Because the novel was deemed “obscene,” Ulysses also has a complicated print history. It was first published in little magazines and then as a book by a little bookshop in Paris. It was pirated in the United States before a judge declared that Ulysses was not obscene since it was “sincere, truthful, relevant to the subject, and executed with real art.” Random House published the first North American edition in 1934.
In this course, students will read the entire novel of Ulysses and in the process gain a strong familiarity with the literary techniques employed by Joyce. They will also do hands-on work in UVic Special Collections, which holds a nearly complete collection of Ulysses publications, in order to learn about the material evolution of the novel from magazine to book and to explore how format affects the response by the reader. For a final project, students will create an online resource, using the library’s exhibit software, in order to create a collaboratively built, public resource on the publication history of Ulysses.
Joyce, James. Ulysses (Gabler)
Blamires, Harry. The New Bloomsday Book
Gilbert, Stuart. James Joyce’s Ulysses
Weekly Blogs (300-500 words): 20%
Bibliographical Description: 20%
1500-word Essay (building from a blog post): 20%
Final project: 20%