Laura E. K. Von Wallmenich, Ph.D.
Recent Courses Taught
Lit Analysis: Postmodern Fairy Tales. ENG 120.
Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (2nd Ed., Vintage, 1995)
David Henry Hwang, M. Butterfly (Plume)
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (Annotated edition, Penguin)
John Rybicki, We Bed Down Into Water
Anne Sexton, Transformations Guillermo del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth (film)
David Cronenburg, M. Butterfly (film)
Murfin and Ray, Eds. Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms (3rd Ed., 2009)
Course E-reader (available through Moodle) contains the additional required short stories, poems, and essays.
The study of literature often begins with a love of reading and an interest in language. Advanced literary study, however, is about something more than just reading for pleasure. Analysis leads a critical reader to a richer engagement with a text because it unlocks -- even creates -- richer, complex, and more interesting ways of understanding literary works. Like any skill you must be willing to practice, learn, and train your mind to the task in order to reap the full rewards. In the end, though, the point of analysis is to both enjoy the text on a deeper level and to understand more profoundly the nature of our relationship to language and to story. Literary criticism often leads us into in elemental debates about the nature of our relationship to language and narrative; becoming a more thoughtful reader often means discovering new ways of thinking about the role of words in shaping who we are, and how we see the world.
Every section of ENG 120 focuses on the same skills, but organizes readings around different themes. This section is built around 'fairy tales gone wrong.' Fairy tales are stories that serve to initiate a child into normative ideas of self, gender, and sexuality. Because of their enduring power, they become important allusions in literary texts, especially in texts that in some way interrogate, revise, or critique those roles. Our readings include the fairy tales of Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber (short story collection), Anne Sexton's Transformations (poetry), Nabokov's Lolita (novel), African American conjure and trickster tales, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man (novel), David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly (play and film), and Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (film).