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The Ambient Roar: The Novel in Our Media-Blitz

ENGL 016.303
instructor(s):
MW 3-4:30

Over the course of the last century, the steady emergence of new technologies and communication channels has eroded the privileged position of the American novel at the forefront of popular and influential art forms. From what vantage have novelists observed the effects wrought by film, television and the most recently the Internet on the American consciousness? How have these new technologies, in turn, gradually altered the form of the novel? With an eye on how novelists define their role in this increasingly "noisy" climate, we will examine texts spanning the period from the early days of Hollywood to our digital present; texts may include Nathanael West's Day of the Locust, Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, Don DeLillo's White Noise, Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, and Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club. We will illuminate this discussion by analyzing films, ranging from silent landmarks to contemporary pop-cultural milestones, that have altered our social fabric and means of perception in ways these novels criticize, mirror, or celebrate.