How does one write the history of the present? How does the present absorb the futures of the past? In this course we will approach the twenty-first century as a literary period. We will explore in historical perspective how contemporary fiction has come to look the way that it does, and the old, new, and experimental forms it is taking in the present. We will consider the role that literature plays in limning our sense of a historical moment. We will read and discuss literature that represents, responds to, and reimagines major themes of the century thus far such as terrorism, financial crises, globalization, ecological disaster, technological development, surveillance, and migration. We will explore ascendant forms and modes, and attend to the ways contemporary fiction reimagines its literary precursors. Our analyses will be framed by an inquiry into the category of the contemporary and the methods of literary historical analysis.
View the syllabus here.