2019 - 2020

  The American Novel Since 2000  
Spencer MorrisonWebb - School of Languages103 Sun1000-1200 Sem  2
Webb - School of Languages103 Wed1000-1200 Sem  2
University credit hours:  4.0

Course description

The American Novel Since 2000 – Core Course (The Novel)

This course tracks the American novel’s startlingly varied responses to upheavals in American life since 2000. To this end, we will read major works by writers old and new, including Don DeLillo, Jennifer Egan, Rachel Kushner, Chang-rae Lee, Marilynne Robinson, Philip Roth, Gary Shteyngart, and Colson Whitehead. Their works will prompt us to explore U.S. literature’s engagement with crucial cultural developments of its time, such as widening economic inequality; intensifying political polarization; unabated ecological destruction; abiding racial conflict; a growing perception of American geopolitical decline; emergent cultures of weak belief; a resurgence of evangelical and fundamentalist forms of religion; and the entrenchment of the systems of thought and politics known as neoliberalism.

As we read, we’ll explore developments in literary form, genre, and style, such as contemporary literary fiction’s appropriation of mass-cultural genres; the novel’s transformations amid the rise of new media forms; its shifting relationship to characteristically postmodern modes of irony; and its growing intimacy with the university system, and in particular with scholarly fields such as critical theory. By course’s end, we’ll have developed a deeper understanding of the contemporary U.S. novel’s formal innovations and cultural significance.

Evaluation Method: Term Paper (40%); Final Exam (30%); Short Essay (20%); Participation (10%)

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