ENG365H1S-L0101ENG365H1S L0101 TR2-5 SS2105
Contemporary American Fiction
Instructor: Dr. Ira Wells
Office Phone: 416-898-2094
Office Location: JHB 905
Brief Description of Course: An eleven-year-old pop-music megastar plays to arenas packed with screaming girls and discovers that he is a disposable artistic commodity. A “disastrously overweight” Dominican-American ghetto nerd worries that he is cursed and unlovable. A businessman staggers alone through the smoking wreckage of the decimated Twin Towers on the morning of September 11, 2001. A father and son struggle to evade cannibals and the seductions of suicide in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. A fourth-year English major finds herself falling in love at the precise moment when all the literary theory she’s reading seems to be deconstructing the very idea of love. This class is about contemporary America and the stories it tells itself. We’ll investigate some of the signature themes, anxieties, and aesthetic preoccupations of recent American fiction. Alongside close readings of some of the most significant and provocative texts of our time, we’ll think about things like gentrification, hipsterism, the fame machine, drugs, depression, boredom, terrorism, and America’s continual cultural investments in visions of the apocalypse. We’ll also wonder about the fate literacy and reading in an age of texting, sexting, and slacktivism.
Required Reading: Teddy Wayne, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine (2013); Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot (2011); Don DeLillo, Falling Man (2007); Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007); Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006)".
First Three Authors/Texts: Wayne, McCarthy, Diaz.
Method of Evaluation: Response paper (15%); class presentation (15%); term test (25%); essay (35%); participation (10%).
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