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Topics in the Novel: Strange American Books

ENGL 275.301
instructor(s):
TR 12-1:30

Why, if America is the land of practicality and realism, does so much of our important literature violate the tenets of realism in favor of the extravagant, magical, allegorical, and bizarre? Anti-realistic books are not confined to the so-called modernist period of stylistic and structural experimentation; they have been part of our literature at least since the eighteenth century.  Nor were they written exclusively by writers of fantasy and sci-fi; even Mark Twain, often touted as one of the founders of American literary realism, frequently wrote books that challenge the value of common sense "realism" as Americans usually define it.  In this course, we will read a number of strange books from the list below in order to investigate this paradox between American pragmatism and the American practice of literary un-realism.

Brown, _Edgar Huntly_
Melville, _Moby Dick_
Twain, _Connecticut Yankee_
Stein, _Tender Buttons_ or _The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas_     
Chappel _I Am One of You Forever_
Kingsolver, _Animal Dreams_
Ellison, _Invisible Man_
West _Day of the Locust_
Welty, _Curtain of Green_
Morrison, _Song of Solomon_
Momaday, _The Way to Rainy Mountain_
Faulkner, _As I Lay Dying_
Heller, _Catch-22_
Nichols, _Milagro Beanfield War_
Flannery O'Connor, selected stories
Kingston, _Woman Warrior_
Acker, _Great Expectations_
Baum, _The Wizard of Oz_
Poe, _The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym_
Hawthorne, _The Blithedale Romance_      
Course requirements will include timely reading of the ten or so books that I ultimately choose from this list, numerous short essays and in-class presentations, and a term paper of ten to twenty-five pages in length.      
Note: This course is ideal for English majors concentrating in the NOVEL as a genre.