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Spring 2016 Undergraduate English Courses: Special Topics

358:215 Introduction to 21st Century Literature

01  MW6  17385    LIV   MILLER, R.   TIL-264

What will emerge as the dominant literary form of the 21st century? Will it be the graphic novel? Or the serialized drama (i.e. Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, etc.)? Or the ephemera of the web (i.e., blog posts, fan fiction, youtube videos)? Or video games (i.e., Fallout, Assassins Creed, etc.) Or creative nonfiction? Or will it remain the novel?

Humans are hard-wired to be storytellers, but storytelling itself has been transformed by the shift from paper to the screen as the assumed final destination for human expression. This shift in the default technology for human expression has occurred around the stunning act of violence that inaugurated the beginning of the 21st century: the attacks on September 11th, 2001. Accordingly, we will consider how the technological change and the launch of The War on Terror together have altered both the how and the what of literary expression. Our ultimate goal is to consider what forms literacy, “the literary,” and aesthetics take in post-9/11 literature.

This course will be conducted in a way that blends lecture and discussion. The mode of assessment is perpetual: 10-minute quizzes at the beginning of every class (80% of the grade) and class participation (20% of the grade).  

Here is a sample of kinds of work we will read together:

Fiction:

Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger (2008)
Julian Barnes, The Sense of An Ending (2011)
Junot Diaz, This is How You Lose Her (2012)
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (2001)
Hari Kunzru, Gods Without Men (2012)
Dana Spiotta, Stone Arabia (2011)
Jess Walter, The Financial Lives of Poets (2009)

Nonfiction:
Philip Gourevitch, The Ballad of Abu Ghraib (2008)

Graphic Novels:
Jules Feiffer, Kill My Mother (2014)

Serial Stories:
The Wire (2002-2008)
Breaking Bad (2008-2014)

Video games:

Fallout, The Sims.