ENGL-212 Post-WWII American Novel
Spring for 2013-2014
In the wake of World War II, the 20th century bore witness to a dizzying array of new cultural innovations as artists of all stripes sought to grapple with an increasingly interconnected world. In the United States, this impulse toward the new found special purchase in the novel, where authors pushed at the formal limits of prose fiction in an effort to rethink the value and potential of literary culture. This class will trace some of the major developments within the recent history of the American novel, focusing especially on works whose formal innovations are intertwined with the changing socio-political climate of the nation. With Thomas Pynchon, for example, we will think through the emergence of transformative digital communications technologies. On a different front, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye will offer us an opportunity to discuss the enduring legacies of racism. Later, Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao will allow us to think through changing patterns of cultural and linguistic diversity in the United States. We will also read works by a range of other American novelists including Don Delillo, Marilynne Robinson, and William S. Burroughs.
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