H6 7/9-8/15 CAC MW 6:00-9:40 PM 04330 MALINOWSKI SC-119
Tuning out! American Literature and Culture in the Late 20th Century
It seems like, in the present moment, that we are inundated with information in unceasing and ever-changing ways. Between streams of tweets, unending push notifications, and the noise of cable news, it feels as though we are living in a time of unprecedented media saturation. However, this situation is not as new as it often seems. This course will take a small step backward in time, and focus on how new forms of media and art were discussed and depicted in the fiction of the second half of the 20th century. Examining the period from 1945 until 2001, we will look at literary depictions of movies, television, jazz, and the early personal computer in order to understand our present moment in a larger cultural context. Our goal will be to understand how novelists think through pressing social issues through their mediations and remediations of other forms in order to deal with issues of gender, race, and modernity. While our focus will be on fiction, we will consider these forms alongside relevant films and pieces of music from within and without the American context in order to understand the novels within context of the media that they engage.
The authors we will read may include Toni Morrison, William Gibson, Jennifer Egan, Walker Percy, Nathaniel Mackey, Erna Brodber, Don DeLillo, and Thomas Pynchon. Films may include The Last Picture Show, Blow-Up, The Conversation, and Hackers. We will also read some literary and cultural theory from thinkers such as Alexander Weheliye, TW Adorno, Richard Grusin, Marshall McLuhan, and others. Students will be graded on two papers and participation.