Comparative Literature | The Twentieth Century II: History And/In the Postmodern Novel
C538 | 27307 | Prof. Vivian Halloran
In this class, we will analyze the role that history plays as a theme
or organizing principle in postmodern novels from around the world
from the 1960s until now. We will consider examples of the genre
ranging from historiographical metafiction, to hysterical fiction and
everything in between. Among the questions we will be raising this
semester are: What constitutes historical fiction? What do we do
with alternate or apocryphal histories? What is the difference
between the real and the authentic when it comes to past events? What
is entertaining about history? What is historical about literature?
How do we reconcile conflicting histories within one narrative? What
role should the past have in the present? Interested students should
read Jean-François Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition: A Report on
Knowledge over the summer to be ready for class. Assigned work
includes a formal book review of a recent text dealing with
postmodernist fiction to be submitted to an appropriate journal, a
formal seminar paper (20-25pp), and an in-class presentation.
*No prerequisite or instructor approval needed for this class.