Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Post 45 American Literature and Film

ENGL 074.401
also offered as: CIMS 074
MW 3:30-5pm
Pre-Pandemic Forms of Social Distancing, circa 2014


Post45/Contemporary American Literature & Film


Course Description:

As our technological means of communication increase at incredible speed—ostensibly creating a “global community” through social media and the World Wide Web—much of contemporary fiction bears witness to growing alienation and the failure to “connect” with fellow human beings. Today, with the new normal of ‘Covidworld,’ the stakes of our need to connect have taken on epic proportions. This course will take a long view of the contemporary by taking us back to the middle of the century past into our current millennial moment, tracing the recent history of challenges to civic and social kinship in the United States, from racial segregation to “Network Connectivity Failure.” With a focus on texts that dramatize a desire for community, connection, recognition, and meaningful encounters, we will explore the relationship between post-45 American fiction and the world we (try to) live in. Mirroring the current proliferation of media platforms, this course will incorporate novels, films, comics, poetry, songs, and short stories to survey the breadth of contemporary American fiction in its global contexts. Assignments will consist of short weekly discussion posts, a book/film review, a video “Snapchat”-style story, and a final written reflection on “our contemporary moment” informed by the course.   


Class Structure:

This class will be held exclusively online (remote teaching) and will combine asynchronous and synchronous content. Essentially, the two weekly class meetings will be split: most weeks, the Monday sessions will consist of an asynchronous pre-recorded lecture by the instructor (Prof. Cloutier), and the Wednesday session will be a synchronous Zoom meeting where we will discuss the text, address points made in lecture, and anything students want to bring up. The recorded lectures will be made available before the scheduled meeting time and students will be expected to view/“attend” the recorded lectures before the following synchronous meeting (preferably by midnight on Tuesday). The Wednesday session will consist of a 60 to 80-minute synchronous Zoom meeting that will be held during scheduled class time of 3:30-5pm. Students unable to join will be asked to complete alternative assignments asynchronously, and our Zoom meetings will always be recorded for later, asynchronous viewing.


For a full syallbus, go to Courses InTouch.


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