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Civil War and Apocalypse

ENGL 264.301

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.

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