AMST 272
American Postmodern Fiction Spring 2020
Division II
Cross-listed AMST 272 / ENGL 272

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American fiction took a turn at World War II; the simplest way to name the turn is from modernism to postmodernism. The most obvious mark of postmodern narration is its self-consciousness: postmodern books tend to be about themselves, even when they are most historical or realistic. Already a paradox emerges: why would World War II make narratives more self-reflexive? The first book in the course, and the best for approaching this paradox, is Heller’s Catch-22. It also serves as a good introduction to the unlikely merging in American fiction of high European post-structuralist postmodernism and low American punk postmodernism. Subsequent books in the course will probably include Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, Morrison’s Beloved, DeLillo’s White Noise, Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,, Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, and Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 3742
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: three papers of increasing length and weight, contributions to class discussion
Prerequisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
Enrollment Preferences: first-year students who have placed out of 100-level English and sophomores considering the major; then Junior and Senior English majors
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 272 Division II ENGL 272 Division I
Attributes: AMST Arts in Context Electives
ENGL Literary Histories C

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