This course offers an intensive survey of contemporary writing, focussing mainly on the novel but including also poetry, journalism, short stories, and autobiography. The readings are intended to reflect the two major developments in American literature of this period: the emergence of postmodernism (a term we will try to define in the course of the semester) and the increasing prominence of women and minority writers. We will discuss such issues as the rise of consumer culture and its political and personal effects; the Vietnam war and its aftermath; madness and liberation; the loss and rediscovery of historical memory; and the decay and reinvention of storytelling and narration. Both majors and non-majors are advised that the reading load will be substantial; this is not an easy course. Possible texts: Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood, Carson McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, Ken Kesey, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Kaddish, Michael Herr, Dispatches, Tim
O'Brien, The Things They Carried, John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse, Paul Auster, City of Glass, Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior, Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon, Leslie Marmon Silko, Storyteller, Don DeLillo, White Noise, Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale, and Douglas Coupland, Generation X.