Skip to Main Content

IMF 51605
Fiction Genres:
Breaking the Fourth Wall

Instructor: Eve Jones

Class Type: Literature & Craft

Course Description: Breaking the Fourth Wall in Literature, Film, and Art: There is something particularly unnerving about an actor who, in the middle of a scene, looks straight at the camera and addresses us, the viewers. In art (film, stage, literature, visual art) we assume the existence of a fourth wall, a barrier between the action and lives of the characters/objects and the audience. Sometimes, however, that barrier is intriguingly porous, and the audience is invited in, as complicit participant, or the characters must confront a self-awareness as characters in a narrative they do not control. In this course, we will examine various ways the fourth wall can be broken. In the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ferris repeatedly and wryly addresses the viewer. The challenging Italo Calvino book If On a Winter's Night a Traveler comprises someone reading a book entitled If On a Winter's Night a Traveler. Performance artist Marina Abramović has invited visitors to sit with her, silently, in the middle of the gallery, demonstrating how organic art can be. We'll study multi-genre examples of this interesting creative occurrence, and consider its purpose and meaning.

Textbooks: 

If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler
Calvino
ISBN 9780156439619

Breakfast of Champions
Vonnegut
ISBN 9780385334204

Lindenwood University
209 S. Kingshighway
St. Charles, MO 63301