Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

The Fiction/Nonfiction Perplex

ENGL 274.302
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

In 1973, Tom Wolfe wrote that nonfiction would take over from the novel as "literature's main event."  The claim was prophetic, given the spectacular rise of memoir, biography, and documentary over the past two decades.  This course will examine the recent history of the novel and of "creative nonfiction" to see what is at stake in this tug-of-war between the virtual and the real in contemporary narrative literature.  Among the texts on the syllabus will be works by Thomas Pynchon, Tom Wolfe, Toni Morrison, Art Spiegelman, Katherine Dunn, J.M. Coetzee, Nicole Krauss, James Frey, Christopher Bram, Julie Powell, and others.