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Contemporary Literature: The Novel in the Age of the Audiobook

ENGL 2091.301
TR 1:45-3:14pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective of the Standard Major


This is a literature class that involves more listening than reading.  Over the last decade or so, the audiobook has been crushing it in the format wars.   Sales and rentals of audio editions are rising much faster than e-books or print, especially where novels are concerned.   What accounts for this popularity, and how is it changing the way readers relate to books and authors?  Are authors beginning to “write for audio,” creating novels with particular performers in mind?  And what about English classes in high school and college—will audiobooks start to displace print in classrooms as they have been doing everywhere else?  

In our attempt to answer these questions we will be listening to, but in some cases also reading, novels by a range of contemporary novelists, possibly including Jennifer Egan, Zadie Smith, Colson Whitehead, Kazuo Ishiguro, Sally Rooney, Jesmyn Ward, and George Saunders  We will learn to use audio-capture tools to extract audio “quotations” and to create our own podcasts.  And we will take a field trip to a sound studio where audiobooks are produced.  Assignments will consist of three short podcasts and five quizzes.  There will be no final exam.