Wednesdays 12:30 - 14:20, beginning 5th February, 2020; NOTE: no class before Chinese New Year
"And they lived happily ever after!" We are all accustomed to the fairytale ending where all the good people are happy, and all the bad people are punished (or dead). The Harry Potter series ended with an epilogue, detailing the happiness awaiting young Harry. This mirrors the kind of ending we find in novels like Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. But, what exactly is a happy ending? Actually, what is happiness? Which stories have happy endings? Which lives have happy endings? Do we hold the same standards of happiness to both? Where do such standards originate? The life and art of happiness are historically beautiful acts to reconsider closely. Many approaches and disciplines are important for studying human happiness, and in particular a drive toward the “happy ending,” whether philosophy, psychology, or folklore: in this course we will look especially at literary texts and films in English to consider in detail core acts and experiments in representation and expectations for “endings,” and the bent toward happy ones.
There are many cultural and historical assumptions that claim attention for happy endings, such as acts of renewal, flexibility, and the “common good.” This course will look at happy endings in different global and generic contexts: is a European "happy ending" the same as an Asian "happy ending"? Do films end differently from their literary sources? The course will highlight the production and politics of point of view in stories across different periods and genres. Offering playful and ideological dimensions to the art of endings, this course will bring new literary and historical awareness to evolving representations of ideals, rituals, and practices with regard to human relationships and societies.
Students will be given text-endings through MOODLE, and, where appropriate, a summary of the story (e.g. in novels and films) leading up to the "happy ending." You will also be given some short stories to examine.
On completing the course, students will be able to:
- Appraise critical and aesthetic qualities of literary texts.
- Produce close critical analyses of literary texts.
- Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the ideological nature of narrative endings.
- Analyse the ideological effects of particular kinds of endings.
- Recognize and address alternative points of view left out in certain endings.
|Activities||Number of hours|
|Lectures (videoed and notes)||22|
|Online discussion forum||14|
|Reading / Self-study||60|
|Essay (incl preparation)||20|
|Midterm writing assignment||2|
|Midterm writing assignment||25%|
|Weekly journal writing||25%|
|Online Discussion Forum||25%|
- 1984 by George Orwell (last chapter)
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (last chapter; and film)
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (final 2 chapters)
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (last chapter, "XXXVII––Conclusion")
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (Ch.36, Epilogue; and film)
- Miscellaneous short stories
- Citizen X
- Matilda (based on novel by Roald Dahl)
- Sense & Sensibility (by Emma Thompson, based on novel by Jane Austen)
- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (musical)
- Paddington 2 (based on character in A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond)
- Crazy Rich Asians
Abbott, H. Porter. . The Cambridge introduction to narrative. Second Edition. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press. 2008.
Daničić, Mirjana. (2010). On the borders of storytelling: Do unconventional beginnings lead to (un)conventional endings?" On the Borders of Convention, by Daničić, Mirjana. Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars. [pp. 47-58]
Kermode, Frank. The sense of an ending: Studies in the theory of fiction. New York: Oxford University Press. 2000.
Owing to the outbreak of Covid-19, the course will be online until further notice. We will meanwhile follow the schedule set by HKU: online teaching and learning (with Recess work from 17 February to 01 March), every week, (including Reading Week). Weekly work will include: (a) a videoed lecture in Moodle, (b) lecture notes, (c) a variety of readings as needed, (d) graded participation in an online discussion/debate forum, and (e) journal entries. There will also be a mid-term writing assignment, which will be in-class if we are back on campus by April or online at the appointed lecture time if we are not back on campus by April. Your major project is a research essay (see below). All work online will be asynchronous — i.e. you can do it in your own time but keep deadlines in mind.
In lieu of tutorials, regular participation in the discussion forum is expected to show you have absorbed and understand the material. The discussion forum will be graded. A well thought-out, well-argued post is required for every forum.