Fall 2010
- Contemporary American Literature

This course concentrates on American writers whose work chronicles the seismic upheavals in American society: Vietnam and subsequent wars; the Civil Rights and feminist revolutions; technological advances; the impact of mass media and popular culture. We shall examine fiction, essays, plays and visual media by such authors as Norman Mailer, Sherman Alexie, Gloria Anzaldua, Toni Morrison, Don DeLillo, Margaret Atwood, Susan Choi, Cormac McCarthy and Anna Deveare Smith. Course objectives: 1) to become more sophisticated analysts of multiple representational systems—in television, film, and the visual arts--as well as in literature; 2) to discuss unique perspectives on the meaning of ideology, history, language, and the United States‘ recent past; 3) to improve your writing by working intensively on research and revision. This course is for serious students who want to be challenged and who are prepared to make the necessary commitment that entails—beginning with attendance on the first day. Ninety-eight percent of students who are absent on the first day end up dropping the course, because they immediately find themselves at an extreme disadvantage, and cannot keep up with the demands of the course. Requirements: two research papers—one short (5-7pp.), one long (9-12pp), oral midterm & final exam, class presentations. In addition to the required texts, there will be a selection of theoretical readings (Umberto Eco, Donald Pease, Jean Baudrillard, Slavov Zikek, Fredric Jameson et. al) posted on Elms/Blackboard. Required texts selected from the following: Postmodern American Fiction, ed. Geyh et.al; Atwood The Handmaid’sTale; Choi, Susan American Woman; Didion, Joan Fixed Ideas: America after 9/11 or Where I was From; DeLillo, Falling Man or Point Omega; Cormac McCarthy, The Road; Smith, Anna Deveare Fires in the Mirror, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.


Two English courses in literature or permission of department.