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The Trouble with Normal: Sally Rooney's Normal People (The One Series)

ENGL 4512.301
Tuesday 5:15-8:14pm

This One Series course takes a deep dive into Irish novelist Sally Rooney’s 2018 smash hit Normal People. Why is Normal People such a sensation, and does its commercial success take away from its status as a serious literary work? Is Rooney “the Millennial Jane Austen”? Do her novels provide a feminist perspective on contemporary gender relations, or do they reinscribe a conservative fantasy of heterosexual romance? Together, we will take stock of the fierce debate Normal People has sparked among scholars, journalists, and readers. Alongside media coverage of the novel, we will turn to debates in queer and feminist theory around normativity, and to Marxist literary criticism to assess the question of whether Rooney’s novels are truly Marxist. We will also read Rooney’s first novel Conversations with Friends (2017), watch episodes of the TV adaptations of each work, and look at examples of mass-market romance and fan fiction. There are no prerequisites and students are welcome from every major. As this is a course focused on contemporary literature and the literary market with several options for creative writing assignments, it will particularly appeal to those with an interest in creative writing, media, and publishing. 

English Major Requirements
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
College Attributes
Additional Attributes