Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Contemporary U. S. Literature

ENGL 074.900
instructor(s):

 

In the volume An Atlas of the Difficult World (1991), poet Adrienne Rich articulates what may serve as a metaphor for contemporary American literature and its diverse standpoints: “I promised to show you a map you say but this is a mural/Then yes let it be/These are small distinctions/Where do we see it from is the question.”  In this spirit, this course explores American voices across genres, with an emphasis on fiction, since approximately 1970.  We will explore how various creative writers have envisioned the changing faces of the American dream, marriage and family, the city, and the status of the artist. Texts may include Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, Joan Didion'sThe Year of Magical Thinking, Jonathan Safran Foyer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, Don DeLillo's White Noise, Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, and Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  Required assignments will include 3 papers (1 short, 2 medium); the weekly submission of discussion questions; and a class presentation chosen in consultation with the instructor.