Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

The Twentieth Century

ENGL 104.401
instructor(s):
TR 9-10:30

This class will introduce students to some of the major writers of the twentieth-century, including Joseph Conrad, E. M. Forster, Evelyn Waugh, Chinua Achebe, J. M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, and George Perec. The course leans towards novels that have come to be classified under the rubric of colonial and postcolonial fiction. Topics for discussion will therefore include matters such as "Englishness" and otherness, civilization and barbarism, power and knowledge, the country and the city, the metropolis and the periphery, and writing and orality. The course will engage many broadly political concerns (e.g., the meaning of democracy, freedom, law, and empire), as well as questions of race, class, gender, and the relationship between subjectivity and space. The approach, however, should also appeal to students who simply want to expand their literary horizons, develop their understanding of literary form, and their skills in literary analysis. We will read about a novel a week, plus occasional short stories, and critical essays. Written assignments will consist of midterm and final essays. The syllabus is likely to include the following: Conrad, The Heart of Darkness, Forster, Passage to India, Waugh, Black Mischief, Lessing, African Stories, Greene, The Quiet American, Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day, Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Rhys, The Wide Sargasso Sea, Ousmane, God's Bits of Wood, Gordimer, July's People, Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians, Rushdie, East-West, Perec, Things, Copeland, Generation X.