Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG364Y1Y L5101

ENG364Y1Y     L5101    R6-9
Twentieth Century American Literature
Instructor: Dr. Ira Wells

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Brief Description of Course: This course investigates some of the nation-defining fictions of “The American Century.” In a 1941 essay of that name, Henry Luce – the founder of Time and Life magazines – urged the U.S. to abandon its isolationism and boldly remake the world in its own image. At the same time, however, the U.S. was busily making and remaking its own image, as exemplified by the diversity of literature considered in this course. We will examine literature’s role in reproducing, transforming, or contesting the ideological forms that powered America’s economic and military ascendance over the course of the century. We will consider literature’s response to the social, artistic and technological upheavals that shaped public consciousness. And we will think about the aesthetic and stylistic innovations of a national literature coming to terms with the New Woman, Jazz, Hollywood, hipsters, red scares, Black Power, free love, free markets, French theory, the democratization of higher education, and the “end of history.”

Required Reading: Kate Chopin, The Awakening; James Weldon Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man; F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts & The Day of the Locust; Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie; Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find; Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; John Williams, Stoner; James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time; Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye; Robert Stone, Children of Light; Lydia Davis, Break it Down; David Foster Wallace, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Poetry by Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, Amiri Baraka, John Ashbery (and others).
First Three Authors/Texts: Chopin, Johnson, Fitzgerald

Method of Evaluation: Short essay, presentation, prospectus, long essay, term test, and participation.

Link to ARTSCI Calendar Course Descriptions.

Link to ARTSCI 2016-17 Timetable with Room Allocations.

Return to 300 Level Courses.

Return to 2016-17 Fall-Winter Courses.

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