ENGL749C - Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature; Form and the Global Novel: 1980-Present

In this seminar we will turn to questions about form, genre and modes of reading to understand the widely used term: the global novel. What previous categories existed before the rise of the global novel? What happened to the postcolonial novel for example? Are shifts in nomenclature clearly marked in the novels that are grouped under them or are these categories that emerge as a result of certain academic and theoretical trends and labels? What work does each category do and what, if any, formal conventions govern say the postcolonial, the US ethnic, the Black British, the African, the South Asian novel versus the global novel?  Are these terms available mostly in the anglophone world such that something called the global anglophone is increasingly used to discuss a wide range of novels written in English from all over the world? Are novels that are translated into English and become very popular still part and parcel of the global anglophone novel? Do translated novels like Elena Ferrante’s wildly successful Neapolitan novels function as world literature or are they global novels like Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World (also translated)? Is a novel like Ugandan writer, Jennifer Makumbi’s Kintu a “global” novel similar to Teju Cole’s Open City  or does it have more in common with Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies or even a clearly defined postcolonial novel like Achebe’s Arrows of God?  What is the relationship of contemporary US fiction, US minority fiction to the  global novel? Is Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being a global novel? What would it be to read Viet Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer as  an Asian American, postcolonial, world and global novel simultaneously? What assumptions would we be making and what would be erased if we read Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones as a global novel about climate change? What is the relationship of say the contemporary refugee novel to the global novel or to the postcolonial one? How do questions of genre, realism, modernism, postmodernism, speculative and science fiction affect the larger more encompassing labels used above? And, finally, what modes of reading do we deploy when we read and analyze novels and when we characterize them as one or the other? In other words, do we make forms and terms fit so that we can proceed with our task of critical analysis or do we put form first and then see where that leads us? We will read a wide range of novels, theoretical and critical works on questions of form, genre and theories of reading but also on issues of race, sexuality, gender, globalization, transnationalism, the refugee condition, environmental humanities etc. to come to some kind of conclusion about the terms we so easily use today. Requirements will include individual presentations as well as a research paper of approximately 25 pages.

Meets the MA Lit Modern and Contemporary Course Requirement