This course examines the American myth of the outsider in the twentieth century. The American novel repeatedly sets aside a place for this lonely figure who can be filled with the dreams and expectations of the self-made American. This figure at the margins stands paradoxically at the center of works of literature that try to describe an American essence; these lone riders have become a symbol for what is, writ large, American exceptionalism. We will begin with Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and its paradigmatic incarnation of the American outsider set against a nativist vision of America. Our readings will track this figure into changing historical and cultural circumstances. We will read novels and short stories by Willa Cather, William Faulkner, Nella Larsen, James Weldon Johnson, Piri Thomas, John Okada, and Leslie Marmon Silko; and we will watch some films as well, including Rebel Without a Cause.