Over the last thirty some years literary historians and critics have completely remade the field of American literature. The important artistic contributions of women, of African Americans, of Latinos, of Asian Americans, and of Native Americans have received attention and appreciation. In many instances long-forgotten texts have been uncovered and accepted as first-rate works of art. Known but neglected artists have been reread, re-seen. An important goal of this course is bringing what were once considered the classics together with the most important of the newer additions to the body of American literature. In doing so our primary attention will be on texts of exceptional literary merit: fiction and non-fiction and poetry.
This course begins with Norman Mailer and Philip Roth, two of a number of writers who, in the 1950s, made Jewish American literature a central part of American literature. Their dominance turned out to be quite brief and for the remainder of the century a rich abundance of writing appears, some of which can be labeled ethnically (American Indian, African American, Asian American, Latino), but what stands out is a range of imaginations and styles. Among the writers we may read: James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Danzy Senna, N. Scott Momaday, Maxine Hong Kingston, Chang-Rae Lee, Louise Erdrich, Ray Young Bear, Junot Diaz, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Chuck Palahniuk, Chris Hedges, and Joe Sacco (graphic non-fiction).
Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Professors Brooks and O'Connell.