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Literature as a Marketplace

ENGL 1094.301
TR 1:45-3:14pm

This is an introduction to contemporary American and British literature that focuses on the economic dimensions of the literary world. In part this means the business side of literature: the publishing industry, the role of agents, the rising power of Amazon, the concentration of global sales and profits around a few blockbuster authors and brands, the spread of e-books and audiobooks, and the prevalence of adaptation between print and screen media. But we will also consider economics in a broader sense that includes the circulation of symbolic rewards: the so-called “economy of prestige,” which revolves less around money than around “reputational capital” and alternative currencies such as prizes, awards, and high-status MFA degrees or university professorships. Our approach will be to study a range of contemporary novels in some detail, learning about how they and their authors managed to succeed in a challenging fiction market and how they reflect in their stories or styles certain features of today’s literary marketplace. Texts might include such novels as Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad; Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones; Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go; Hugh Howie, Wool; Andy Weir, The Martian; and John Scalzi, The Dispatcher.

English Major Requirements
  • Sector 1 Theory and Poetics (AETP)
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
  • The Novel Concentration (AENV)
  • Theory & Cultural Studies Concentration (AETC)
College Attributes
Additional Attributes