The range of recent American writing is astounding, and the business of this course will be to survey it. We'll read a number of post-World War II writers in the first weeks of the course before concentrating on living writers who have published within the last twenty years. How diverse is America and how do its writers confront its master narratives to construct American identity? Why does so much of recent American writing focus on monstrous others, "outside" subcultures, and alternative and virtual realities? We will also consider the dialogue between the printed text and technical media as we analyze the production (and progression towards the end) of the "real". Authors will likely include: Kathy Acker, Amiri Baraka, Don DeLillo, Allen Ginsberg, Jonathan Franzen, Rick Moody, Toni Morrison, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, Douglas Rushkoff and William T. Vollmann. Requirements will include two short essays (4-6 pages) and one longer essay (7-10 pages), and a final exam.