Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Study of a Literary Period: The 21st Century

ENGL 104.601

In an era of New York Times bestsellers and proliferating online publication, what constitutes the “literary” today? In this course we will examine literature happening “now,” along with the critical conversations concerning the creation and analysis of this work. We will look closely at how writers deploy a variety of both conventional and emerging literary forms—from novels and plays to new media—to engage with contemporary issues, such as race, ethnicity, gender, transgressive cultures, war, terrorism, and globalization. In addition to considering the works listed on the syllabus, we will also attend poetry readings, literary exhibitions, and at least one play in Philadelphia.


Authors may include Alison Bechdel, Michael Chabon, Tracie Morris, Junot Diaz, Erik Loyer, Jonathan Safran Foer, Young-Hae Chang, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Zadie Smith.

fulfills requirements
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major