Recommended by James Franco (Mostly)
“I'm interested in… moving toward where art and consumerism and entertainment intersect.”
This course will use actor, author, scholar, and one-time Oscar co-host James Franco’s literary recommendations as a springboard for surveying representative texts from the 20th and 21st centuries, with an emphasis on the more recent works. To be clear, this course does not blindly endorse Mr. Franco's recommendations but rather uses them as a means of assessing and critiquing the contemporary literary and cinematic scene. When possible, we will read and/or watch Franco’s reviews, impressions, and enactments, treating them as provocations for own inquiries and critical assessment. Mirroring the current proliferation of media platforms onto which Franco appears, this course will incorporate novels, films, graphic narrative, poetry, songs, and short stories to survey the breadth of contemporary American fiction in its global, mediatized contexts. By focusing on texts that dramatize a convergence of art, consumerism, and entertainment, as Franco puts it, we will explore the relationship between contemporary American fiction and the circumstances of literary production and reception. We will also devote a considerable amount of time and attention to considering those groups, texts, and voices Franco's recommendations leave out. Assignments will consist of one review written “Franco”-style, a Snapchat-story embedding your chosen week’s readings with other events in your life, one short paper, and a final exam.