Art of Fiction: The Novel is a foil to Art of Fiction: Short Story. As is standard with any “Art of” course, readings are conducted outside of class then discussed in class. The novel is a long work of fiction, or so we think. Brendan’s main goal with this class is to challenge the classifications of the novel genre and then explore how said classification can be molded. This course's reading list includes serially published works, classics, one graphic novel, and an experimental work or two. In addition to exploration of the genre, Brendan also teaches the history of it.
As much as I enjoyed Short Story, it was not my favorite class. I expected Novel to serve relatively the same purpose: as an exposure to more of the literary canon. Brendan completely exceeded my expectations. Every class opened me to something new within the literary world, and by the time I had completed last semester I decided this was the most useful class I have taken thus far. Not only did I learn how to approach literature in a new manner of criticism, but I also rekindled my love of reading.
In order to succeed in this class, you need to read. Most of the books were covered over 2-3 days, which meant that about 100 pages were assigned per class period. If, like me, you know you will be taking a lot of classes alongside this one, I would request the booklist beforehand to attack the readings over summer, making sure to annotate then review during the school year. As a final tip: if Brendan tells you to use literary criticism, just do it.
This class takes a lot of time—I spent more than 20 hours on my final essay. I still think it was worth it. Also, there are heavy themes because these are novels. Trigger warnings are given and Brendan allows for missed class periods if you email him beforehand.
Rating: 10/10. I only wish this had been a 200 level class because I worked so hard.
Elise Kelly is a sophomore at Simon's Rock and The Weekly Cad's President and Director of Creative Publications.