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 emblematic Americans. We will begin with Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and its paradigmatic incarnation of the American outsider set against a nativist vision of America, and we will track this figure into changing historical and cultural circumstances, in novels by Cather, Hemingway, James Welson Johnson, Nella Larsen, and others. We will also watch two films: Rebel Without a Cause and Taxi Driver. Course requirements: short papers, midterm exam, final exam.