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Writer in Residence: Jennifer Egan and the Art of Fiction

ENGL 0900.001
TR 3:30-4:59pm

What is fiction, exactly, and why does it matter?  In our screen-saturated era, these questions are worth asking and answering afresh.  This course offers a rare opportunity for students to study a broad range of major English-language literary texts across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries under the direction of Jennifer Egan (C '85), Artist-in-Residence at Penn English.  Egan has won critical acclaim with such works as A Visit from the Goon Squad (winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction), Manhattan Beach (winner of the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence), and The Candy House (New York Times top 10 books of 2022; President Obama’s Favorite Books of 2022).

The course will examine the ways in which works literature spanning 100 years —including Anthony Trollope, Edith Wharton, Nella Larsen, Jean Rhys, Philip Roth, Chester Himes and Joan Didion—offer portals into both the public mores of their eras and the contradictory private experience of their characters.  In addition to looking at each work from the perspective of craft, Egan will focus on themes of modern life such as sexual mores and behavior, evolving communications technology; class and ethnicity in urban America; and conceptions of consciousness; our internal vs our social selves and the role of fiction to represent both.The course will encourage individual literary expression through creative writing exercises and will include opportunities to share and workshop creative student work. Assessments include discussion posts, a critical/creative midterm essay, and a final critical or intellectual project. No previous literary training is required, and students of every age and discipline are welcome.


Mandatory Recitations details are visible in Path@Penn.

ENGL 0900.201 Collins, Thomas, Thursday 3:30-4:59pm

ENGL 0900.202 Hemming, Matilda, Thursday 3:30-4:59pm

ENGL 0900.203 James, Arianna Q., Thursday 3:30-4:59pm

ENGL 0900.204 Young, Molly, Thursday 3:30-4:59pm


English Major Requirements
  • Sector 1 Theory and Poetics (AETP)
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
College Attributes