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Civil War and Apocalypse

ENGL 264.301
instructor(s):
MWF 2

The Civil War era has long been the favored terrain of writers who were historians first and novelists second, but the last few years have seen a series of highly acclaimed (and highly literary) books from leading contemporary novelists, including E.L. Doctorow, Geraldine Brooks, Marilynne Robinson, Russell Banks, and Edward Jones, to name a few, set shortly before, during, or after the conflict.  Unsurprisingly, these novelists view the period­-the bloodshed and the social, racial and religious strife­-as a prism through which to view the current American climate.  On a parallel tract, other celebrated novelists, including Philip Roth and Cormac McCarthy, have newly ventured into genres of science fiction, whether alternate histories or post-apocalyptic speculation, to much the same effect.  Our exploration of these very recent works will involve short writings, a longer research paper, brief in-class presentations, and regular conversation.