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Nuclear Epic

ENGL 364.301
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

Jacques Derrida wrote in 1984 that "Literature has always belonged to the
nuclear epoch." Taking Derrida's cryptic statement as its starting point, this
course will explore the relations between narrative and the nuclear condition.
Why do fantasies of nuclear apocalypse so frequently imagine a loss of literacy
and a return to primary orality? Besides orality, what other characteristics of
epic (e.g., scale, inventory, holism, predestination) do writers of the nuclear
adopt or adapt? By what tactics—deterrence? pre-emptive strike?—does fiction
respond to Cold War lingo or "nuke-speak"? And how do we read
post-structuralism back into its nuclear contexts? Readings to include
Baudrillard, Derrida, DeLillo, Ferguson, Hegel, Hoban, Pynchon, Schwenger, and
others.