All Third-year American Novel courses share the following features:
• Students are presumed to be proficient in the writing of critical essays on literary subjects.
• Students are required to read in the course subject area beyond the texts assigned by the instructor or discussed in class.
• Students are required to incorporate into their oral and written coursework secondary source materials. These may include autobiographical or biographical material; literary criticism or theory; unassigned texts by the author under study; relevant cultural or intellectual history; or other arts, such as music, film, or fine arts.
• Readings and topics will vary with each instructor’s presentation of a course; however, all course materials are consistent with the objectives/outcomes for this course.
In English 2319, students will examine a selection of American novels from the 20th and 21st centuries onward, in order to trace the features and stages of the British novel as an evolving genre within its historical and social contexts
This course begins with a seemingly simple question: why do people read and study literature? It’s a question at the heart of English Departments today, yet it often goes unasked in the classroom. This course will keep it front and center as we survey how a wide range of critics, scholars, and artists have grappled with the uses of literature over the last hundred years. We will read from key essays of literary criticism and theory since the end of the nineteenth century, as well as some poems and plays from the period that have repeatedly turned up as test cases of new approaches to reading literature. Our goal is to understand what people thought about literature in the past so that we can articulate why we read it seriously now. This class will be organized around a series of recurring sub-questions that fall under our title: What is “literature,” anyway? What counts as “studying” it? What makes literature good or bad? Should we only study the good stuff? What makes literature different than or similar to other arts: painting, film, television, music, etc.? What is the relationship between an author and her work of art? Why do readers respond to literature in such different ways? Each week we will read exceptional essays of literary and cultural criticism that in some way try to answer one or more of the above questions. We will place the essays in intellectual and historical context, analyze them as rhetorical constructions, and assess their implications for the study of literature. Critical readings will be paired with short primary works throughout the semester.
No prior knowledge of or familiarity with the pertinent languages is required. All reading materials will be provided in English translation.
Readings and topics will vary with each instructor’s presentation of a course; however, all course materials are consistent with the objectives/outcomes for this course