English | Studies in British or Commonwealth Culture
L383 | 24475 | Ranu Samantrai
L383 24475 STUDIES IN BRITISH OR COMMONWEALTH CULTURE
TOPIC: “Post-WWII British Literature”
2:30p-3:45p TR (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.
The second half of the twentieth century has been a tumultuous
period for England, both materially and symbolically. The era began
with the nation emerging from war at once victorious and devastated,
and still ruling an enormous but increasingly rebellious empire.
Then followed an ambitious experiment with socialism, the
development and eventual fragmentation of the welfare state,
decolonization, increased migration, and attendant seismic changes
in the class structure, gender relations, and racial affiliations of
the population. The literary texts for this class interrogate the
idea of England by re-visiting significant moments of national
history. They also re-narrate national myths, often by invoking
ironically the aesthetic gestures and literary precursors most
valued by their nation. We will discuss the habit of measuring
national character and distinctiveness through a literary tradition,
and ask how writers respond to the burden of national
representation. We will track aesthetic shifts in the period from
the realist to the postmodern, and will attend to the generic
conventions of plays, novels, and the occasional cinematic text.
Readings likely will include J.B. Priestly, John Osborne, Tom
Stoppard, Caryl Churchill, Kazuo Ishiguro, Pat Barker, Michael
Ondaatje, Salman Rushdie, Julian Barnes, and Kwame Kwei-Armah.
Assignments will include two analytical essays, a mid-term
examination and a final examination, and may include informal
writing and in-class presentations.