The Agony of History: Why the past matters in 'The Sound and the Fury'

Course Dates: 14/06/21 - 05/07/21
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: Online
Faulkner's powerful portrayal of 1920s South examines the weight of familial and cultural history. This lyric and tragic study of tormented sibling relationships, racial tensions, gender roles and suicide requires careful attention; we will work through the density together while coming into a clearer understanding of the American South post-Civil War. The long shadow of slavery and ante-bellum Southern culture continues to exert its power—and Faulkner goes into the darkness to illustrate this world.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
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Full fee £79.00 Senior fee £63.00 Concession £48.00

This course has now started

Course Code: HLT151

Started Mon, day, 14 Jun - 05 Jul '21

Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)

Call us to check if you can still join the course 020 7492 2652 (depart num)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

In William Faulkner’s first truly modernist work, he pushes to break through the confines of time and sequence to get at the essence of human nature- as Malcolm Bradbury explains, “Faulkner’s preoccupation with time has to do with the endless interlocking of personal and public histories and with the relation of the past to the lost, chaotic present.” The Sound and the Fury uses the interior world of its narrators to expose a crumbling world, through inference and allusion rather than through direct social critique. In the Modernist method, Faulkner employs stream of consciousness, symbolism as a connecting fiber and several interior realities (that show how one can see the world as absolutely in one’s way, and directly in contrast to others) that must compete for authority.
This study will draw upon individual’s questions and ideas to shed light on this complex text. The reading load should allow for re-reading as we study the work, enabling the first-time reader access to Faulkner’s complex vision. Upon a first reading, the narratives appear jumbled and opaque but as the pieces start to fit together, one can see the complex and careful planning that Faulkner has used- and to what end? This is what we must grapple with in our study.

Through close consideration of the text, reading aloud and sharing our responses, insights and questions, we will work towards an understanding of the story and Faulkner’s craft while situating the text in hits historic and cultural context.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

Language, structure, theme, Gothic tradition, symbolism, and multiple narrative perspectives as demonstrated in the literature. We will also consider Faulkner’s vision of the South and the impact of history on lived experience—in particular the social divisions that constrict Southern culture.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Understand Faulkner’s craft and his engagement of history as well as his use of the Modernism genre.
• Identify key techniques (multiple perspectives, extended sentences, lyric descriptions, oral tradition) of Faulkner’s art.
• Describe the historical, social and cultural context of Faulkner’s writing.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is geared for both the first time and repeating reader.
The ability and willingness to read text, exchange response to it and listen in an open and supportive way to the response of others.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Tutor input , textual analysis, large and small group discussion, dramatic readings, creative response and preparatory reading. The reading load is significant. You are highly encouraged to read the first chapter in preparation for the first meeting. Tutor will provide additional notes and preparatory materials via email.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

CORE TEXT Please purchase in preparation for our study
The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner Norton Critical Ed. (3rd ed.) ISBN 9780393912692
(I know this is the more expensive edition; The Vintage Classics will work but the Norton Critical has loads of supporting material).

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Please look for other literature courses at, culture & writing/literature.

We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.