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Narrative Silence: Cross-Cultural Theme and Technique

This course explores ways in which narrative can express the non-verbal or non-linear, including music and silence. We will consider what drives authors across cultures and time to seek non-verbal communication through narrative fiction, and how their techniques affect the relationship between reader and implied author. In addition, this course explores the multi-valence of literary silence, particularly the philosophical and cultural modes of silence and the narrative techniques used to achieve them. When and how does literary silence express protest, civility, job, oppression, nihilism, awe, or a crisis of representation?

We will look at the following authors’ modes and techniques of incorporating silence into their narratives: Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Natsume Sôseki’s Kusamakura (or Pillow of Grass) Mann’s Tristan, and Shusako Endo’s Chinmoku ( or Silence).


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