Samuel Cohen   

Teaching

            Description: http://web.missouri.edu/%7Ecohenss/teaching_files/image004.gif

 

click semester for descriptions

 

Spring 2017               The Rock Novel & Arts Criticism

Fall 2016                    Job Placement Workshop

Spring 2016               The Future & Contemporary American Fiction

Fall 2015                    Capstone: The Future

AY 2014-15                On leave

Fall 2013                    Literary Reportage

The Novel & Introduction to Graduate Study

Fall 2012                    The Rock Novel

Introduction to Graduate Study

Fall 2011                    Contemporary American Fiction and the Anxiety of Influence

Introduction to Grad Study

Spring 2011               Capstone: History, Trauma, Writing

Fall 2010                    Honors Seminar: Self-Reflexive Literature

Introduction to Graduate Study

Spring 2010               Capstone: Contemporary American Fiction and History

Philip Roth and History of the Novel

Fall 2009                    The Cold War in American Literature and Culture

                                    Survey of American Literature, II

Spring 2009               The Cold War in American Literature and Culture  &  Political Fictions

Fall 2008                    Experimental Fiction 

Job Placement Workshop

Spring 2008               Global History/World Fiction

Capstone: History in Contemporary Fiction

Fall 2007                    The Reality Effect

Theory of the Novel

Fall 2006                    Job Placement Workshop  &  Contemporary Critical Approaches

Spring 2006               Philip Roth

Honors Seminar: Historicism

Fall 2005                    The Problem of Evil

Contemporary American Fiction and the Metafictional Impulse

Spring 2005               Capstone Experience: History and Contemporary Fiction

Fall 2004                    Survey of American Literature, II

                                    Historical Trauma in Post-WWII American Literature

 

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Spring 2017

 

4040/7040, Studies in Writing: Criticism

 

In this course we will work on criticism. We will study it, looking at the criticism of music, art, literature, film, TV, fashion, food and looking at the forms it takes--academic, journalistic, creative—and we will write and workshop our own pieces of criticism. Students will be responsible for reading and responding to examples of criticism, supplied by the instructor and also by themselves and their classmates, in reading journals to be shared in class. Students will also be responsible for writing their own pieces of criticism and for taking part in workshopping them. (Syllabus)

 

4109/7109, Genres: The Rock Novel

 

In this course we will read seven American novels that take rock and roll music as their subject and inspiration. We will read them for what they have to say about the music as a cultural phenomenon (and what they have to say about American culture through the music) and for how they are influenced as works of art by the music—that is, we’ll talk and write about them not just as books about rock but as rock books, books whose form is shaped by rock and whose self-conception is influenced by their conception of rock as art and commerce. We will also read some rock history and criticism and listen to music that relates to the novels, more or less, in order to help us think about the music these books come out of and the larger culture that gave birth to them both. (Syllabus)

 

 

Fall 2016

 

8006, Job Placement Workshop

 

This course will provide intensive preparation and support for graduate students going on the job market. We will workshop job letters, CVs, dissertation abstracts, statements of teaching philosophy, writing samples, and job talks. We will also practice MLA interviews, campus interviews, job talks, and teaching demonstrations. Readings for the course will come primarily from Karen KelskyThe Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job and from The Chronicle of Higher EducationInside Higher Ed and from The Chronicle of Higher EducationInside Higher Ed, and other sources. (Syllabus)

 

 

Spring 2016

 

8320, Studies in twentieth-Century American Literature: The Future & Contemporary American Fiction [back to top]

 

In this seminar we will read twenty-first-century American novels that in one way or another are concerned with the future. We will read these novels alongside a variety of secondary materials that will help us think about how these writers and their times see the future—how it is imagined, represented, worried about, anticipated. We will also read a range of things that will help us think about the particular challenges and opportunities of writing about contemporary literature and culture more generally. Assignments will include daily questions, three presentations, a book review, and a conference-length paper. (Syllabus)

 

Fall 2015

 

4970, Capstone Experience: The Future [back to top]

 

In this class we will read novels by contemporary American writers concerned with the future. We will read them with an eye toward the ways in which these writers and their times think and feel about the future. We will also be talking and writing about our own futures as individual humans and as English majors, which are not mutually exclusive things. Primary texts will include Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker, Ben Marcus, The Flame Alphabet, Lydia Millet, How the Dead Dream, and Nathaniel Rich, Odds Against Tomorrow. (Syllabus)

 

 

Fall 2013 [back to top]

 

8320, Studies in twentieth-Century American Literature: Literary Reportage & The Novel

 

This course  will examine the loosely defined genre known as literary reportage (or literary journalism, or long-form journalism) historically and in the context of its relationship to the novel, concentrating on its American instances. We will read journalism and fiction from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first, examining the ways in which the two have informed each other; we will also have secondary readings about the history, criticism, and theory of literary reportage and the novel and about the particular works and writers on whom we will be focusing. Coursework will include short presentations and a seminar paper. (Syllabus)

 

8005, Introduction to Graduate Study

 

This course is a one-hour course, the first half of a two-semester course designed to help introduce new graduate students in English to graduate study in general and in our department in particular, to the concrete procedures and long-term goals involved in successfully negotiating their programs of study, and to the discipline. We will meet biweekly, generally, and will focus on a single topic or group of related topics for each meeting, assisted by Gregory Colón Semenza’s Graduate Study for the 21st Century and any other reading we turn up in our efforts to understand the ever-changing world of graduate study in English and the professional opportunities that await at the other end of your graduate school careers. In addition to attending all class meetings, there will be a number of additional requirements, all designed to expose you to the intellectual life of the department, the discipline, and the humanities as well as to the professionalization I will be encouraging through the year. (Syllabus)

 

 

Fall 2012 [back to top]

 

4109/7109, Genres: The Rock Novel

 

In this course we will read seven American novels that take rock and roll music as their subject and inspiration. We will read them for what they have to say about the music as a cultural phenomenon (and what they have to say about American culture through the music) and for how they are influenced as works of art by the music—that is, we’ll talk and write about them not just as books about rock but as rock books, books whose form is shaped by rock and whose self-conception is influenced by their conception of rock as art and commerce. We will also read some rock history and criticism and listen to music that relates to the novels, more or less, in order to help us think about the music these books come out of and the larger culture that gave birth to them both. . (Syllabus)

 

 

8005, Introduction to Graduate Study

 

This course is a one-hour course, the first half of a two-semester course designed to help introduce new graduate students in English to graduate study in general and in our department in particular, to the concrete procedures and long-term goals involved in successfully negotiating their programs of study, and to the discipline. We will meet biweekly, generally, and will focus on a single topic or group of related topics for each meeting, assisted by Gregory Colón Semenza’s Graduate Study for the 21st Century and any other reading we turn up in our efforts to understand the ever-changing world of graduate study in English and the professional opportunities that await at the other end of your graduate school careers. In addition to attending all class meetings, there will be a number of additional requirements, all designed to expose you to the intellectual life of the department, the discipline, and the humanities as well as to the professionalization I will be encouraging through the year. (Syllabus)

 

 

Fall 2011 [back to top]

 

8320, Studies in Twentieth-Century American Literature: Contemporary American Fiction and the Anxiety of Influence

 

In this course we will read fiction written by the latest generation of American writers poised to enter the canon and examine it in the light of the literary- and social-historical fact of its writers’ membership in this generation. We will read selected works by four important writers born in the 1960s, David Foster Wallace, Colson Whitehead, Lydia Millet, and Jonathan Lethem, accompanied by fiction written by significant precursors, by their own commentary on fiction and related subjects, and by writing about the idea of literary influence, literary history, and the historical moment. Among the questions we will be asking: How is the fiction produced by these writers effected by their consciousness of the work of the previous generation(s)? How do their responses to these influences compare to their responses to history? What larger models of literary influence/history help us understand all of this? Course work will include short responses to reading and a final paper. (Syllabus)

 

8005, Introduction to Graduate Study

 

This course is a one-hour course, the first half of a two-semester course designed to help introduce new graduate students in English to graduate study in general and in our department in particular, to the concrete procedures and long-term goals involved in successfully negotiating their programs of study, and to the discipline. We will meet biweekly, generally, and will focus on a single topic or group of related topics for each meeting, assisted by Gregory Colón Semenza’s Graduate Study for the 21st Century and any other reading we turn up in our efforts to understand the ever-changing world of graduate study in English and the professional opportunities that await at the other end of your graduate school careers. In addition to attending all class meetings, there will be a number of additional requirements, all designed to expose you to the intellectual life of the department, the discipline, and the humanities as well as to the professionalization I will be encouraging through the year. (Syllabus)

 

Spring 2011 [back to top]

 

4970, Capstone Experience: History, Trauma, Writing

 

In this course we will be reading contemporary American literature and thinking about its relation to history: how it is shaped by it, but also and especially how it represents it. As part of our thinking about how this literature represents the past, we will consider literary phenomena such as reference and self-reflexivity and historical phenomena such as historiography and traumatic history or what's been called historical trauma—violent or otherwise catastrophic or deeply effecting events that occur on a large scale and challenge the ability of individuals and cultures to understand and assimilate them into their stories of themselves. Students will write a substantial research essay on the course topic to be produced in stages, with class and conference time spent on the process of planning, researching, and writing. Primary readings: Chris Bachelder, U.S.!, Nicole Krauss, The History of Love, Lydia Millet, Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, Art SpiegelmanIn the Shadow of No Towers; secondary readings: James Berger, “Trauma and Literary Theory,” Hillary Chute, “Temporality and Seriality in Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers,” Linda Hutcheon, “Historiographic Metafiction,” from A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction, Jessica Lang, “The History of Love, the Contemporary Reader, and the Transmission of Holocaust Memory,” Roger Luckhurst, “Introduction,” from The Trauma Question, Kristiann Versluys, “Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers: 9/11 and the Representation of Trauma.” (Syllabus)

 

Fall 2010 [back to top]

 

4996, Honors Seminar: Self-Reflexive Literature

 

This course is the first part of the two-semester Honors sequence in the English Department, and is designed to lead into the second part, the writing of the Honors senior thesis. The course will include an inquiry into research and writing techniques within the discipline (working with primary and secondary sources, using the library and its reference materials efficiently, applying literary theory in interpretation); an investigation of major critical, theoretical, and practical questions in the field of English studies; and a workshop-oriented unit in which each student will prepare a longer research paper.

Our reading—and the loose theme connecting our texts—will be literature that is about literature, that is, literature (in our case, fiction and literary nonfiction) that in one way or another takes on its own literariness. We will also read an introduction to literary theory for background and a number of essays on self-reflexive literature by critics and theorists. The remainder of our time will be devoted to researching and writing fifteen- to twenty-page research papers (on literary texts of your choice) on works that fall under this broad category of self-reflexive literature. The writing of these papers will begin early in the semester and take place in stages to include proposals, outlines, annotated bibliographies, and drafts. (Syllabus)

 

 

8005, Introduction to Graduate Study

 

This course is a one-hour course, the first half of a two-semester course designed to help introduce new graduate students in English to graduate study in general and in our department in particular, to the concrete procedures and long-term goals involved in successfully negotiating their programs of study, and to the discipline. We will meet biweekly, generally, and will focus on a single topic or group of related topics for each meeting, assisted by Gregory Colón Semenza’s Graduate Study for the 21st Century and any other reading we turn up in our efforts to understand the ever-changing world of graduate study in English and the professional opportunities that await at the other end of your graduate school careers. In addition to attending all class meetings, there will be a number of additional requirements, all designed to expose you to the intellectual life of the department, the discipline, and the humanities as well as to the professionalization I will be encouraging through the year. (Syllabus)

 

 

Spring  2010 [back to top]

 

4970, Capstone Experience: Contemporary American Fiction and History

 

This course will focus on the ways in which contemporary American fiction has engaged with history. In it we will read a number of novels as examples of the different approaches to representing the past used by American authors in the last three decades. We will also read some work by scholars reflecting on these approaches and on the effects contemporary history has had on the way writers think about and write about the past. (Syllabus)

 

 

8320, Studies in Twentieth-Century American Literature: Philip Roth and the History of the Novel

 

This course is something of a hybrid. In it we will read a number of novels by postwar American novelist Philip Roth who, over the course of a long and varied (and very productive) career, has engaged with the novel's long history and tested the bounds of the novel form. At the same time, we will be reading a number of works in the history and theory of the novel. It is my hope that these two courses of reading will illuminate each other equally, the reading in the works in history and theory of the novel allowing us to understand Roth's novels in new ways and the novels in turn providing opportunities to understand and evaluate these works.

(Syllabus)

 

 

Fall 2009 [back to top]

 

2309, Studies in English, 1890 to Present: The Cold War in American Literature and Culture

 

In this course we will engage with American literature and film from the Cold War and after in various contexts, including the American use of the atomic bomb in World War II and subsequent fear of nuclear apocalypse, connections between race and sexuality and the ideological conflict with the Soviet Union, and the effects of Cold War foreign and domestic policy on public and private life.  (Syllabus)

 

 

3310, Survey of American Literature, 1865-Present

 

This course will cover U.S. literature from 1865 to today. We will read works by writers writing across a century-and-a-half of American history and dealing with the changes through which American culture has gone. Rather than try to read every important writer and moment in literary history, we will focus on a set of themes centering on “America” as a place and as an idea. These themes will include the special situation of America as a place apart, geographically and culturally; America as a place that contains many different places and cultures; America as an idea and a host of warring ideas. While we think about the ideas and experiences explored in these works, we will also spend equal time appreciating the literary achievements of this wonderfully varied group of writers. (Syllabus)

 

 

Spring 2009 [back to top]

 

2309, Studies in English, 1890 to Present: The Cold War in American Literature and Culture

 

In this course we will read American writing from the Cold War and after in the context of the social, political, and historical developments of the Cold War. These developments include the development of youth culture; the impact of American use of the atomic bomb in World War II and subsequent fear of nuclear apocalypse; connections between race and sexuality and the ideological conflict with the Soviet Union; the effects of Cold War foreign and domestic policy on public and private life. Readings will include J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye; Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man; Allen Ginsberg, Howl; Joan Didion, Democracy; Don DeLillo, Underworld. (Syllabus)

 

 

8320: Studies in 20th Century Literature: Political Fictions

 

Fredric Jameson has famously argued that “everything is ‘in the last analysis’ political.” While we will not be taking issue with Jameson’s dictum in this course, there’s political and there’s political, and the books we will read are not just shaped by the political but expressly about politics. Focusing on writing in the U.S. after WWII, we will examine American novels that engage with the world of politics during and after the Cold War. Reading this work, we will discuss the nature of the political novel, the challenges and possibilities presented by the topical and polarizing world of politics, and conversely, the ways in which the political—which in one formulation is simply the place where private life and public life meet—is a natural subject for the novel, the genre perhaps best-suited to telling personal and collective histories. Alongside this reading we will also dip into the postwar career of the political in literary criticism and theory, from Lionel Trilling to Jameson to Walter Benn Michaels.

Primary readings will include Norman Mailer, Armies of the Night; Philip Roth, Our Gang; Robert Coover, Public Burning; Joan Didion, Democracy; Don DeLillo, Libra; Tim O’Brien, In the Lake of the Woods; Susan Choi, American Woman; George Saunders, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil; Jess Walter, The Zero. (Syllabus)

 

 

Fall 2008 [back to top]

 

4109/7109, Genres: Experimental Fiction

 

In this course, we will read a number of examples of experimental or nontraditional works of fiction—novels and stories that play off of what we think of as traditional notions about the elements of fiction and its representational aims—and think about the issues such work raises concerning how fiction has been written and read and concerning how literary innovation has been described and accounted for. We will spend our time reading these works closely and engaging with theoretical statements concerning literary experimentation. (Syllabus)

 

 

8001: Job Placement Workshop

 

This course is designed for graduate students going on the job market this year or next. While we will focus mainly on the academic job market, students interested in pursuing nonacademic jobs will find much of use to them too. We will cover all aspects of the job search, from the art of the dissertation abstract to the campus interview, including: the crafting of arcane documents such as the job letter, the statement of teaching philosophy, and the follow-up email; the reading of the Job Information List; the managing of work and time during job season; the managing of relationships with recommenders, loved ones, and pets during same; the conduct of MLA interviews; and much more. We will workshop documents, read about and discuss philosophies of the job search, and set up mock interviews and job talks. (Syllabus)

 

 

Spring 2008 [back to top]

2000, Studies in English. Global History/World Fiction

Much post-WWII fiction from around the world has been interested in one way or another in history—the past, but also the present as shaped by larger movements and forces and the narratives people construct to deal with the past. Much of this fiction has also seen history as something global, as crossing national borders and narratives. In this course we will read examples of fiction from around the world—from Japan, Kenya, Great Britain, South Africa, Germany, the U.S.—that consider past and present in a way that is both historical and global, and we will ourselves consider the way these perspectives inform and influence each other. In doing so, we will get to enjoy some interesting, powerful, entertaining stories that, while thinking about the world and history, also at the same time explore the inner life of people and of storytelling itself. (Syllabus)

 

4970, Capstone: History in Contemporary Fiction.  

In this course we will be reading contemporary fiction and thinking about its relation to history. We will examine the problems and possibilities of historical representation in contemporary fiction and historical criticism of contemporary fiction, and in doing so will encounter contemporary arguments about the nature of history and of historical understanding, arguments that that themselves are informed by contemporary ideas about the nature of language, knowledge, and reality. Students will write a substantial research essay; the essays will be produced in stages, with class and conference time spent on the process of planning, researching, and writing. (Syllabus)

 

 

Fall 2007 [back to top]

 

4320/7320, Twentieth Century American Literature: The Reality Effect

 

The standard account of twentieth century literary fiction, following the model of most histories of modern art—holds that the realism characterizing the fiction of the latter part of the 19th century was succeeded by modernism early in the twentieth and that modernism was itself succeeded by postmodernism sometime after mid-century. One implication of this account is that the history of innovation in modern fiction can be understood as the increasing movement away from realism. This seminar’s goal is to look at a sampling of fiction from across the century in order to see how the standard account holds up and how it doesn’t; in other words, we will (with the aid of some secondary reading) examine the definitions of realism at work in this account and explore their ramifications for understanding works of fiction. At stake will be questions about the formal techniques and strategies of representation, the reality effect as illusion and response, the politics of representation—in short, our understanding of the relationship between works of fiction and the world—as well as questions about the particulars of a number of developments in the forms of modern fiction. (Syllabus)

 

 

8060, Seminar in Criticism and Theory: Theory of the Novel

 

Theory of the novel—the study of the novel as a genre, rather than a subset of narrative—offers a number of advantages to the student of the novel. Unlike many areas of literary theory, including narrative theory (all of which, of course, it is connected to), it does not rule out of bounds discussions of aesthetic value, of the writer’s subjectivity, of the act of writing—it views literary creativity as inextricably part of the historical world rather than separating literary products, the works, from the world that produces and consumes them. Our survey of the field of novel theory will focus on three areas: considerations of voice (of point-of-view, narration, perspective, mood), of reference (of representations of reality, of the relationship of works to world), and of innovation (of the reigning modernist/postmodernist account and of other more helpful ways of conceptualizing invention in the forms of the modern novel. Throughout the semester we will also engage with the history of the genre from its roots to the present. (Syllabus)

 

 

Fall 2006 [back to top]

 

8001: Job Placement Workshop

 

This course is designed for graduate students going on the job market this year or next. While we will focus mainly on the academic job market, students interested in pursuing nonacademic jobs will find much of use to them too. We will cover all aspects of the job search, from the art of the dissertation abstract to the campus interview, including: the crafting of arcane documents such as the job letter, the statement of teaching philosophy, and the follow-up email; the reading of the Job Information List; the managing of work and time during job season; the managing of relationships with recommenders, loved ones, and pets during same; the conduct of MLA interviews; and much more. We will workshop documents, read about and discuss philosophies of the job search, and set up mock interviews and job talks. (Syllabus)

 

 

8050: Contemporary Critical Approaches

 

This seminar is a survey of contemporary literary and cultural theory from Saussure to the present. We will read work from the major schools of contemporary theory, including deconstruction, psychoanalysis, Marxism, postcolonialism, new historicism, feminism, gender studies, and queer theory. As we read, we will examine the larger questions theorists working within these groupings try to answer about literature, language, representation culture, identity, and history. We will also attend to the historical context out of which the theories themselves have come, tracing the course of the theoretical conversation as it ran through the Twentieth Century and continues today. The seminar’s aim (beyond the important goals of familiarizing students with different theories and their relation to each other and to history) is to help students find the theoretical approaches most congenial to them in their own work. Students will be responsible for an oral presentation and a seminar paper. (Syllabus)

                       

Spring 2006 [back to top]

 

4320/7320, 20th Century American Literature: “Philip Roth”

 

Philip Roth is one of America’s most important writers. He is also one of its funniest. Over the course of a career that so far spans six decades, he has attracted millions of readers and infuriated family members, rabbis, and many others by unflinchingly turning his darkly comic sensibility on a wide range of sensitive subjects. He has also experimented with a number of styles and genres from the Jamesian to the metafictional to the patented Rothian rant.

 

This past August, The Library of America released the first volume of his collected works. Roth is the youngest living author to be so honored—Saul Bellow and Eudora Welty are the only other writers whose volumes appeared in their lifetimes—and has written so many novels that collecting them will take eight volumes, the last to be released in 2013. This seems like a good time, then, to spend a semester with Roth. We will devote our time to trying to get as full as picture as we can of his work, from his early stories to his most recent novels. Readings may include the novella and five-story collection Goodbye, Columbus (1959); the infamous Portnoy’s Complaint (1969); the Nixon satire Our Gang (1971); the Kafkaesque The Breast (1972); the three-novel-plus-epilogue collection Zuckerman Bound (1985); the metafictional The Counterlife (1986); the unorthodox autobiography The Facts (1988); the memoir Patrimony (1991); the return-to-Portnoy Sabbath’s Theater (1995); all or part of the three novel “American Trilogy” of American Pastoral (1997), I Married a Communist (1998), and The Human Stain (2000); and the counter-history The Plot Against America (2004). Secondary reading will include essays by Roth (such as those collected in Reading Myself and Others (1975)) and about Roth. (Syllabus)

 

 

4996, Honors Seminar: “Historicism”

 

This course is the first part of the two-semester Honors sequence in the English Department, and is intended to lead into the second part, the writing of the Honors senior thesis. The course will include an inquiry into research and writing techniques within the discipline (working with primary and secondary sources, using the library and its reference materials efficiently, applying literary theory in interpretation); an investigation of major critical, theoretical, and practical questions in the field of English studies; and a workshop-oriented unit in which each student will prepare a longer (12-20 page) research paper.

 

Our theme will be historicism, or the approach to criticism based on the belief that historical context is crucially important to interpretation. We will read Jonathan Culler’s Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction for background, Paul Hamilton’s Historicism for a history of the idea and its applications, a few literary texts on which we can try out our historicizing skills (may include Gustave Flaubert’s Sentimental Education, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, Don DeLillo’s White Noise, Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters, and players to be named later), and a few examples of historical criticism. The remainder of our time will be devoted to researching and writing twelve- to twenty-page research papers (on literary texts of your choice) to be informed in some way by historicism (i.e., a thoughtful, self-aware historical consideration must be included, but this requirement does not preclude formal or other considerations). The writing of these papers will begin early in the semester and take place in stages to included proposals, outlines, annotated bibliographies, and drafts. (Syllabus)

 

Fall 2005 [back to top]

 

2000, Topics in English Studies: “The Problem of Evil”

“The Problem of Evil” is one name for the conundrum presented by the existence of natural and human-caused disasters for those who believe in a benevolent and omnipotent deity. In this course we will explore this theological and philosophical problem—and the less specifically theological problem of violent human behavior—through literature. We will also examine the ways in which writers have tried to resolve or at least represent these problems through their use of literary form. Our reading will begin in the Eighteenth Century in Europe with Enlightenment writers grappling with the idea in the wake of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, and we will then consider post-WWII works, when writers responded to the disastrous events of mid-century and the cultural upheavals that followed. The course will end with the events of September 2001 and their aftermath.

Possible Texts: Anna Akhmatova, “Requiem”; Martin Amis, Time’s Arrow; Truman Capote, In Cold Blood; Vijay Dan Detha, “Untold Hitlers”; Carolyn Forché, “The Colonel”; Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye; Kojima Nobuo, “American School”; Tim O’Brien, In the Lake of the Woods; Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “The Life You Save May Be Your Own”; Alexander Pope, Essay on Man; Art Spiegelman, Maus and In the Shadow of No Towers; Jonathan Swift, “A Modest Proposal”; Voltaire, Candide(Syllabus)

  

8320, Studies in 20th Century American Literature: “Contemporary American Fiction and the Metafictional Impulse”

In this course we will read a number of examples of self-conscious, self-reflexive American fiction (as well as some precursors and works by writers not from the U.S.) and address the questions they raise about genre, literary history, social history, and politics: How de we define metafiction? How does metafiction cause us to rethink representation? Was metafiction born in post-WWII America or does it have roots in the novel’s past? What can be said about contemporary American metafiction in its post-WWII historical context? Are there political ramifications of the metafictional approach to representation?            

Possible texts: John Barth, The Floating Opera and “The Literature of Exhaustion”; Donald Barthelme, 60 Stories; Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones; Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America; Robert Coover, The Public Burning; Denis Diderot, Jacques the Fatalist; Linda Hutcheon, The Poetics of Postmodernism; Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism and Consumer Society"; Milan Kundera, The Art of the Novel; Toni Morrison, Jazz; Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire; Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo; Thomas Pynchon, “The Crying of Lot 49”; William Spanos, "The Detective and the Boundary: Some Notes on the Postmodern Literary Imagination"; Patricia Waugh, Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction. (Syllabus)

 

Spring 2005 [back to top]

4970, Capstone Experience: “History and Contemporary Fiction”

 

In this course we will be reading contemporary fiction and thinking about its relation to history. We will examine the problems and possibilities of historical representation in contemporary fiction and historical criticism of contemporary fiction, and in doing so will encounter contemporary arguments about the nature of history and of historical understanding, arguments that relate to contemporary arguments about the nature of language, knowledge, and reality.  Students will write a substantial research essay; the essays will be produced in stages, with class and conference time spent on the process of planning, researching, and writing.

 

Readings may include novels picked from among the following: Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart; Martin Amis, Time’s Arrow; T. C. Boyle, World’s End; J. M. Coetzee, Foe; Robert Coover, The Public Burning; Don DeLillo, Libra; Joan Didion, The Last Thing He Wanted; Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters; Kazuo Ishiguro, A Pale View of Hills; Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon; Philip Roth, The Plot Against America; Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses; W. G. Sebald, The Emigrants. We will also read in theory of the novel and other work on history and literature and on historical criticism.  (Syllabus)

 

Fall 2004 [back to top]

3310, Survey of American Literature, 1865-Present

This course will cover American literature from 1865 to today. We will read short stories, novels, poems, and essays by writers working across a century-and-a-half of American history and dealing with the changes through which American culture has gone. These include changes in industry, technology, demographics, in what America means and what it means to be an American, in America's position in the world, in our understanding of the nature of the individual, society, and matter, and in our ideas about the nature and purpose of literature. (Syllabus)

 

4320/7320, 20th-Century American Literature: "Historical Trauma in Post-WWII American Literature"

An important feature of Post-WWII American culture is the impact of historical trauma--violent or otherwise catastrophic events that occur on a great scale or for some other reason have a traumatic effect. Much Post-WWII literature engages directly or indirectly with events of this kind; in doing so, it is faced with the problems of understanding and representing such events and their impact, problems that often lead to formal experimentation. We will also do some secondary reading to help us think about our definition of historical trauma and what it means to represent it, particularly in a postwar America torn about what to think about history and about itself. Readings may include works by Vonnegut, Didion, Morrison, DeLillo, Spiegelman, Pynchon, and O'Brien. (Syllabus)

 

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