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Contemporary American Literature

ENGL 074.001
instructor(s):
MWF 12
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

In the volume An Atlas of the Difficult World, Adrienne Rich articulates what may serve as a metaphor for contemporary American literature of distinction: “I promised to show you a map you say but this is a mural/Then yes let it be/These are small distinctions/Where do we see it from is the question.”  In this spirit, this course explores diverse creative American voices of exemplary achievement, with an emphasis on fiction and memoir since 1960.  We will explore how a various writers have envisioned in particular the subjects of opportunity and the American dream, marriage, the cityscape, and the status of the artist.  Besides consistent active contributions to discussion, expectations include a class presentation, several short close reading essays or position papers, a midterm, and a final exam. Authors and texts may include Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49), Dorothy Allison (Bastard out of Carolina), Don Delillo (White Noise), Candace Bushnell (Sex and the City), John Edgar Wideman (“Fever”), Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar), Michael Cunningham (The Hours), William Styron (Darkness Visible), Toni Morrison (Sula), Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner), Richard Ford (A Multitude of Sins), Steven Millhauser (Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer), Leslie Marmon Silko (“Yellow Woman”), Jay Mcinerey (Bright Lights, Big City), and Philip Roth (Portnoy’s Complaint).