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Fall 2013 Course Descriptions

English 3704 American Literature: 1950 to present

Section 001       CRN 90802
American Literature: 1950 to present    0930-1045 TR

Time is one of the most fundamental parameters through which narratives are organized and understood. Because this age is one of unprecedented flourishing for alternative ways of understanding and inhabiting time, it is not surprising that the cultural narratives of the last half century have been obsessed with time itself. Non-linearity, or temporal distortion, is one of the most common features of modern and postmodern fiction.   This course focuses on the temporal play found within various postmodern novels, reading this stylistic device as a way of dealing aesthetically with an altered culture of time. The class will discuss how certain technological inventions, media influences, and national tragedies may have contributed to these new conceptions of temporality.

The texts studied in this class explore and allegorize constructions of time, history, and memory.   Novels studied may include Julia Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Isaac Asimov’s End of Eternity, Octavia Butler’s Kindred,  E.L. Doctorow’s Book of Daniel, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, Marge Piercy’sWoman on the Edge of Time, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. These novels will be read against various contemporary film and television narratives that continue on with this practice of temporal play. Examples may include television shows such as 24, Alias, FlashForward, Fringe, and Lost and films such as Harold Ramis’s Groundhog Day (1993) , Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys (1995), David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. (2001), Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2001), Eric Bess’s The Butterfly Effect (2004), and Tony Scott’s Déjà vu (2006). Course work will likely include literary analysis and research essays, media response papers, two exams (midterm and final), as well as in-class presentations (individual and/or group). (Group 3C)