ENGL457 - The Modern Novel

In this course we will explore the remarkable development and transformation of the novel in the twentieth century. The class will focus on readers, reading, and the act of interpretation, paying particular attention to characters who read (and what happens to them); the nature of the implied reader of realism, modernism, and postmodernism; and the difference of female, minority, and postcolonial reading--and writing back. We will begin with Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, which will be presented as the consummation of the realist tradition. We will go on to look at the transformations made by major modernists like Joyce, Woolf, and Faulkner, and move on to mischievous examples by writers like Nabokov and Queneau. We will then examine modern novels from Africa, India, and Latin America, and Africa, and conclude with the unusual and fascinating fiction of postmodernism, reading writers like Samuel Beckett, Italo Calvino, Ishmael Reed, and Angela Carter. We will conclude by reading a hyperfition and reflecting on the new role of the reader. By the end of the semester, we will have a solid overview of many great achievements in the history of literature and the changing dynamic of the reader over that period. This is intended to be extremely stimulating intellectually and aesthetically; adventurous minds will be rewarded. No previous expertise is any of these areas is required. Assigned reading will usually be something like 150 pages or so per week. There will be several short assignments, a midterm exam, a term paper (10-12 pp), and a take-home final.


Two English courses in literature or permission of department.