Course Description

This course examines a selection of contemporary American fiction in historic, aesthetic, and social contexts. In other words, we will explore the relationship between contemporary American literature and the world we live in.  Topics may include literature and postmodern culture, how aesthetic style may be influenced by social and historic conditions, the blurring of fact and fiction in contemporary literature, and how literature is affected by issues of race, class, and gender.  While the range of contemporary American fiction is extremely broad and varied, and impossible to cover in one semester, students will become acquainted with several of the major trends in American literature since 1965.  The course is divided into three main units:  1) Post W.W.II and Postmodernism; 2) New Journalism and Popular Culture ; 3) Issues of Race, Gender, and Family.   As students will discover, these categories are not mutually exclusive. They overlap and intersect one another.

Required Books

  • Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-5
  • Don DeLillo, White Noise
  • Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
  • Norman Mailer, The Executioner’s Song
  • Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
  • Louise Erdrich, Tracks
  • Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres
  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home