Faculty Course Description
ENG331: Contemporary Literature
Dr. Sandra Meek
Office: Evans 219
Office phone: 802-6523
Advanced study of poetic, dramatic, fictional, and nonfictional literature from 1945 to present, with emphasis on experimental forms. PR: one 200-level literature course.
What does it mean to live in a "late age"? Reading a selection of postmodern works from a variety of cultures, U.S. and international, we will consider how contemporary authors come to terms with the sense of being “post” (post-industrial, post-colonial, post-atom bomb, etc.) While our focus will be primarily on the novel, we will read a variety of genres. We will consider each work on its own individual artistic terms, but we will also discuss common postmodern themes and concerns raised in these works, such as distrust of rationalism and other universalizing “grand narratives”; fragmentation of both the individual and the community, particularly in relation to history and issues of power; and the human condition viewed existentially, filled with irony and with anxiety, particularly about the future, about endings. We will also consider how alternatives to traditional realism, such as magical realism, and more individual, radically experimental narrative structures suggest new ways of viewing literature, the self, and society.
Hours of Credit: 3
Endgame Samuel Beckett
Ceremony Leslie Marmon Silko
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Milan Kundera
The Bone People Keri Hulme
One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
White Noise Don DeLillo
A Personal Matter Kenzaburo Oe
Time's Arrow Martin Amis
Handouts: Jean Baudrillard, excerpts from America
Selected poetry, including John Ashbery, Ann Lauterbach, Jorie Graham, and others.
Evaluation: Daily reading quizzes and class participation 10%
Three critical responses to texts (2 pp. each) 15%
Article summary, response, and presentation 10%
Paper #1 (4-6 pp.) 15%
Paper #2 (7-9 pp.) 30%
Final exam 20%