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ENGL 354
Contemporary American Fiction Fall 2020
Division I

Class Details

This course centers on American fiction from a late phase of postmodernism: we take for granted that history is a form of literature, and that race, gender, and self are constructions. Now what? The premise of the authors of this course is that we can return from these assumptions to write about history, race, gender, and the self in self-conscious but not debilitatingly self-conscious ways. Novels likely to be in the course that move from self or autobiography outwards: Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius; Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Ben Lerner, 10:04; Emma Donoghue, Room. Novels likely to be included that work from history inward: Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad; George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo. A novel likely to be included that is poised between self and history: Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing.
The Class: Format: seminar; The course will be entirely remote by Zoom.
Limit: 16
Expected: 16
Class#: 2353
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Three papers, totaling about 15 pages. Participation in class discussions will be reflected in the final grade.
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, or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: English majors; American Studies majors
Distributions: Division I
Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories C

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