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Global Fictions

ENGL 061.401
crosslisted as: COML 061
instructor(s):
TR 1:30-3pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

 

This is an introduction to 21st-century English-language fiction in its global dimensions.  We will read recent novels by major writers from the US, Britain, Nigeria, South Africa, Canada, India, and Australia.  Our approach to these works will have a double emphasis.  On the one hand, we will consider how they use the form of the novel to address major themes of globalization studies such as the rise of social media and new computational technologies; the widening gap between rich and poor; the spread of authoritarian governments and their machineries of propaganda; the plight of migrant and stateless populations; and the catastrophic effects of anthropomorphic climate change.  At the same time, we will also consider the increasingly global circumstances of book publishing itself:  the merging of book publishers into just a handful of transnational media conglomerates; the dominance of Amazon; the rise of the e-book and the audiobook; the increased emphasis on blockbuster series and cross-platform franchises; the expanded apparatus for rapid translation into many languages.  We will ask: how do the conditions under which novels are being published and marketed shape their response to global changes and challenges?  Along with the novels we read, we will listen to an audiobook, watch one or two film adapations, and study the international reception of several novels on the Goodreads social reading site.  Assignments will include five short exams, a brief research report on one aspect of the publishing and entertainment media, a one-page synopsis/pitch for your own debut “global” novel, and a critical essay on one of the novels on our syllabus. There are no prerequisites, and no expectation that you have previous background in contemporary fiction studies.