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Trauma, Time, and Fiction

ENGL 016.301
instructor(s):
MW 2:00-3:30
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

 

Bombs rising into planes; smoke returning to smokestacks; a wound that gives pain in advance of its infliction. Why do so many novels about historical mass-trauma involve time-travel or reversals in chronology and causality? Can such works constitute a flight from mass-violence? Can they, contrastingly, participate in collective mourning for trauma? How does narrative theory help us with looping, quantum, and preposterous fiction? And how do we understand the political, ethical, and psychological work of alternate history novels, which explore historical timelines that differ from our own (e.g., a history in which F.D.R. was assassinated before World War II)? Readings to include fiction by Martin Amis, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Philip K. Dick, Philip Roth, D. M. Thomas, and others; essays by contemporary theorists of trauma and narrative.