Nearly a month ago, I posted soliciting suggestions for readings I could use in a course proposal I’m putting together. With the wedding and mini-moon in my wake, the time has come for me to revisit this, and put the finishing touches on it.
anima_mecanique and intertext came the closest to guessing the course topic: historical fantasy. Specifically, I’m choosing out seven novels set in various historical periods around the world, all of them more in the vein of “real history with magic slipped in” rather than “alternate history.” (Which is why His Majesty’s Dragon is not on the list.) The six I’ve chosen for sure so far are:
- Euryale, Kara Dalkey (Republican Rome)
- Sky Knife, Marella Sands (Classic Maya)
- The Fox Woman, Kij Johnson (Heian Japan)
- Ink and Steel, Elizabeth Bear (Elizabethan England)
- On Stranger Tides, Tim Powers (Caribbean piracy)
- Territory, Emma Bull (Old West)
I need one more to start the course off with, something set in human prehistory. Clan of the Cave Bear was the first thing that came to mind, but I’ve never read it myself, and I’m not sure it has what I need. So: can anybody recommend a novel of “prehistoric fiction” that includes fantastical elements as literally true? I know Reindeer Moon by Elizabeth Marshall does, but I was underwhelmed by that book; I’d like to begin with something really good.
Also, I need nonfiction readings. (I’ll put those requests behind a cut so they don’t take up too much space.)
First, I still need a good, accessible theory piece on history — something to give my students grist for thinking about the way our own worldview affects how we perceive events and cultures of the past. Something maybe a bit post-modern, that doesn’t present history as objective, immutable fact.
Moving on through the syllabus: anima_mecanique, did you manage to turn up anything on the lives of women in Republican Rome? Also, can anybody give me a primary source (i.e. not Edith Hamilton) for the story of the Gorgons? Not just Perseus killing Medusa, but where the Gorgons came from.
For Heian Japan, I’d like something about the way we exoticize the Far East (especially the past of the Far East). Can anybody who’s read Orientalism tell me if that would work? I know Said’s writing about the Middle East, not the Far East, but I’m not sure if his points would still apply.
Any ideas on a concise introduction to (quoting Bear) “the complicated intersection of religious, political, and secular life in the Renaissance”?
How about eighteenth-century Caribbean piracy? Something about the Fountain of Youth? Voodoo and zombies? I haven’t quite settled on what the topics will be for On Stranger Tides. That last one would probably be good, to give my students a better understanding of voodoo and zombies than pop culture provides.
And finally, a piece on minority experiences along the American frontier, and something about the broader context of the O.K. Corral gunfight — the conflict between the Earps and the McLaurys and the Clantons.
I’m looking either for articles, or excerptable chapters from books. I’m operating under fairly limited guidelines for how much reading I can assign — that’s why we have two weeks per novel — so entire books are less desirable. (But you can suggest a book, and I can go looking for a chapter.)