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Murakami & Magical Realism

Discover the truth that is too strange to believe in three of Murakami's most bizarre novels.

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“Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe.”

― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Together we will learn about the nuances of magical realism and see how Murakami's writing beautifully illustrates this genre. Magical Realism is a genre of literature in which fantastical, magical, and other-worldly occurrences are treated as not just possible, but realistic. In many of Murakami's novels, readers experience these magical elements as they are seamlessly integrated into the narrative. With one eye always on the story, this course explores the fantastic, the unbelievable, the beautiful, the uncanny, and the absurd to watch how meaning is made as all of these elements unite to create one compelling story after another. In addition to learning about the nuances in the genre of magical realism, this adult literature course also considers the various narrative devices and classic literary elements found in each novel.

Course Reading:

The reading is 100 pages a week.

This Course Includes:

  • Lectures on Magical Realism
  • Literature tutorials
  • Recorded live discussions
  • Supplemental reading and resources
  • Class discussions

If you love and celebrate the power of story in literature, but you want to do dig deeper into the theories and philosophies influencing each work, then this course is for you. Each lecture is designed to explain the nuances of magical realism and amplify your reading experience of the current novel.


READING | LECTURES | DISCUSSIONS | LIVE CHATS | MEMORIZATION

This is an adult literature course designed to add intellectual stimulation to an already full life. There are five activities that are a part of this course that are detailed below.

Reading

We average around 100 pages a week of each novel. In order to participate in weekly discussion boards, and bi-weekly live chats, it is imperative that participants keep up with the reading load. An ideal student would read the assigned chapters between Monday and Friday of each week. On Friday, that week's lectures will be published. Over the weekend, students can view the lectures, comment on the discussion posts, and exchange ideas about the text and magical realism. Participants are welcome to revisit previous lectures and add to previous discussions at any point in the course. There is a strict spoiler policy to ensure course participants protect significant plot points to let each reader discover the literature for themselves. Some participants have previously read all three novels while others are reading Murakami for the very first time.

Lectures

Lectures will be published every Friday at 12:00 pm Eastern Time (GMT -4/5). Video lectures will be available on a biweekly basis and will primarily relate to magical realism. These lectures are designed to present you with a full picture of the philosophical and literary significance of magical realism as a literary mode. A great deal of research precedes each lecture which allows me to synthesize some of the most important ideas on this topic. Each video lecture is meant to serve as an introduction to the concept presented. Course participants may look to the further reading and resources lectures to investigate any concept they find particularly interesting. This course series attracts hungry and excited minds and participants are always interested in learning something new or exploring a concept in more depth.

Discussions

The application and analysis of magical realist concepts to the reading will occur in written discussions and live chats to give course participants a chance to make connections and tease out their analyses. Every week there will be a space to discuss the reading, including major plot points, character development, literary devices, and memorable quotes. There are questions to frame the written discussion, but you are welcome to discuss any aspect of the reading you find interesting as it relates to the lecture material or your personal studies and/or interests. Participants tend to have diverse backgrounds and are rich in their areas of expertise, which adds a great deal of depth and insight to our understanding of literature.

Live Chats

Our live chats will take place biweekly on the following dates:

  • Septemeber 16, 30 - Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
  • October 21, November 4, 18 - The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
  • December 9, 23 - Kafka on the Shore

Each live chat will take place at 8:30 pm Eastern Time. You may use this time zone converter to check the time in your local area. This is the time slot that worked best in our previous course for participants all over the world, although I recognize it will leave certain locations at a disadvantage. Each live chat will be recorded and uploaded to our course here for later viewing.

Memorization

The art and discipline of memory is celebrated in this course series, and for Murakami, all reality is memory. For that reason, you will have three memory assignments for the course (one for each novel). You are to take any passage from the novel you find particularly interesting and memorize it. It can be a sentence, a paragraph, or longer. After you commit the passage to memory, record yourself reciting it or use Facebook Live and upload it to our Facebook Group with a short explanation of why you chose the passage. There is a one week break in between each novel, and participants are encouraged to record their video during this time.

Course Overview

UNIT WEEK
Understanding Realism Week 1
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Week 2
Defining Magical Realism
Week 3
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Week 4
Break Week 5
Magical Realism & Ontology
Week 6
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Week 7
Magical Realism & Epistemology
Week 8
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Week 9
Magical Realism & Linguistics Week 10
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Week 11
Break Week 12
Magical Realism & the Uncanny Week 13
Kafka on the Shore Week 14
Murakami on Magical Realism Week 15
Kafka on the Shore Week 16

Your Instructor


Jessica S. Manuel
Jessica S. Manuel

Jessica S. Manuel earned her B.A. in English with an emphasis in Critical Theory and a minor in Theological Studies from The Master's University. She went on to earn her M.A. in English (Literature) from San Francisco State University where she studied 19th-20th Century Literature with a special studies emphasis in Critical Theory. After examining the intersections of psychoanalysis and contemporary literature, she wrote her thesis on Haruki Murakami's use of the unconscious in Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. After finishing her degree, she continued her education at University of California, San Diego where she studied Teaching Adult Learners and literature.

She continues to teach various courses in the areas of writing, rhetoric, literature, and reading at the college level. Two years ago, she began building a reading community at Book Oblivion that now offers a dynamic blog, engaging book club, and specialty courses that you cannot find anywhere else on the web.

When she is not teaching or reading, she enjoys the outdoors, running or playing softball, and spending time with her husband and two sons.


Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
The course begins September 4, 2017 and lasts 16 weeks, including 2 week-long breaks in between novels.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.
Who is this course for?
This adult literature course is designed for the literature enthusiast who wants to learn more about the genre of magical realism. No prior knowledge of either magical realism or Haruki Murakami is expected. Some participants have read all of Murakami's works while others crack open their first Murakami novel with us. Participants will leave with a firmer grasp of this genre's imprint on the literary field while also considering some of the more unique narrative devices that Murakami employs in these three books. While those objectives sound a bit technical, I assure you we will enjoy every ounce of these stories and gain a great deal of insight through our weekly discussion boards and biweekly live chats. We have students enroll from all over the world. The community aspect of this course is a precious gift. Some participants love Murakami while others just want to learn more. The Reading Beyond Murakami course series as a whole is designed for adults who want to continue to learn from the convenience of their own homes. Most course participants are working professionals with graduate degrees who love to read, are innately curious about the evolution of ideas, and have a deep appreciation of literature.

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