E304 16251 Literatures in English, 1900-Present
11:15a-12:05p MWF (30 students) 3 cr. A&H.
The first main objective of this course is to provide a basic understanding of the literary trajectory of the century: the main movements, trends, and innovations in fiction, poetry, and drama written in English since 1900. The second main objective is to test the limits of that trajectory of literary history, and see where it does and doesn’t break down. To accomplish the first objective, we will cover eras and movements such as high, low, and American Modernism; the Harlem Renaissance; post-WWII movements such as the Beats and feminist poetry; and the recent explosion of narrative subjectivities, which many would term postmodern and/or postcolonial. As for the second objective, it’s impossible to squeeze over a century into an eight-week course, so we will first acknowledge the ways that a time-restricted syllabus that focuses almost entirely on English and American works (as does this one) will seriously skew any attempts at a comprehensive understanding of “literatures in English” in this period. Then, since we will be analyzing these works from the vantage of the twenty-first century, it’s our job to test, question, and redefine fast-solidifying classifications of the previous century, which might threaten to restrict future interpretations of this era.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Nella Larsen, Passing
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
Tony Kushner, Angels in America, Part I
Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine
Zadie Smith, White Teeth
plus readings on electronic reserve
To pass this course you will need to successfully write two papers, one short and one long; participate in a small-group presentation; and pass a midterm and a final. A participation grade will factor in attendance, discussion, and possible quizzes.