Course Description

A reading of Proust's In Search of Lost Time—all three thousand pages of it!—with an emphasis on the semiotics, temporality, and social formation of desire (including the desire to know). We will make excursions into contemporary developments in continental painting, music, literature, and politics as we encounter them in this "novel" that might equally be described as the most sophisticated sociological study, aesthetic tract, and/or psychoanalytic treatise composed in the twentieth century. We will view several film adaptations of the book and also discuss secondary texts by Samuel Beckett, Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Theodor Adorno, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, Gerard Genette, and others.

Reading SyllabusResources

How We'll Proceed: Reading, Presentations, Writing

Our primary work in this tutorial will be that of reading: not just the passing of eyes along lines of print, but the active interrogation of the signs we encounter on the page and the drawing of analogies between those signs and the ones that circulate in—and help compose—our own diverse experiences.

To facilitate this collective reading process, each member of the tutorial will be responsible for presenting notes on roughly fifty pages of each week's total reading assignment (which will usually be between 200-250 pages).

The format for these notes will evolve over the course of the semester, but generally they will begin with a brief plot synopsis and then turn to the topics, concepts, and questions deemed salient by the presenter.

All presentations will include brief readings-aloud from and commentary on specific passages of Proust's text. Roughly ten minutes will be allotted for each oral presentation.

Outlines of the presentations will be posted to our First Class folder by 5pm on the Monday preceding our class meeting.

Each member of the tutorial will also bring to completion a final project centered in the experience of reading Proust.

Evaluation & Semester Grade

Presentations, including posted outlines and notes: 60% of semester grade

Final project: 40% of semester grade

Attendance is mandatory: Semester Grades will be lowered one full grade for each unexcused absence in excess of the two permitted for illness and unexpected crises.

If you have a disability for which you may be requesting an accommodation, please contact either the instructor or the Onward program ( as early as possible in the term.

Reading SyllabusResources