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American Fiction

ENGL 089.001
instructor(s):
TR 12-1:30

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville coined the term "individualism" to define a common tendency in the character of Americans, observing that "they acquire the habit of always considering themselves as standing alone, and they are apt to imagine their whole destiny in their own hands." This survey of the American novel will explore the ways in which these texts challenge the prevailing ideology of American individualism through their representations of the complex dialectic of self and society. We will also consider how identity formation is related to narrative structure and voice. Texts for the course will be Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Wharton's The House of Mirth, Chopin's The Awakening, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, LeSueur's The Girl, Hammett's Red Harvest, Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, Naylor's Linden Hills, Robinson's Housekeeping, Banks's Continental Drift, and DeLillo's White Noise. Course requirements include a midterm and final exam, and a term paper.