The American Novel Since 1945

About the Course

In "The American Novel Since 1945" students will study a wide range of works from 1945 to the present. The course traces the formal and thematic developments of the novel in this period, focusing on the relationship between writers and readers, the conditions of publishing, innovations in the novel's form, fiction's engagement with history, and the changing place of literature in American culture. The reading list includes works by Richard Wright, Flannery O'Connor, Vladimir Nabokov, Jack Kerouac, J. D. Salinger, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth and Edward P. Jones. The course concludes with a contemporary novel chosen by the students in the class.

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Course Structure

This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2008.

Course Materials

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About Professor Amy Hungerford

Amy Hungerford is Professor of English at Yale. She specializes in 20th- and 21st-century American literature, especially the period since 1945. She is a founder of Post•45, a collective of leading scholars in the field; Post•45 is developing a web journal based at Yale. Professor Hungerford is author of The Holocaust of Texts: Genocide, Literature, and Personification, (Chicago, 2003); her second book, Postmodern Belief: American Literature and Religion Since 1960 is forthcoming in 2009 (20/21 Series, Princeton UP). Her next project is The Cambridge Introduction to the American Novel Since 1945. She serves as an editor at the journal Contemporary Literature.

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Syllabus

Professor

Amy Hungerford, Professor of English

Description

In "The American Novel Since 1945" students will study a wide range of works from 1945 to the present. The course traces the formal and thematic developments of the novel in this period, focusing on the relationship between writers and readers, the conditions of publishing, innovations in the novel's form, fiction's engagement with history, and the changing place of literature in American culture. The reading list includes works by Richard Wright, Flannery O'Connor, Vladimir Nabokov, Jack Kerouac, J. D. Salinger, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth and Edward P. Jones. The course concludes with a contemporary novel chosen by the students in the class.

Texts

Richard Wright, Black Boy (American Hunger) (Harper Perennial Restored edition, 1993) 1945

Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 1949

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (Vintage) 1955

Jack Kerouac, On the Road (Penguin) 1957

J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey (Little, Brown) 1961

John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse (Anchor) 1963-68 (selections)

Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (HarperCollins) 1967

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (Knopf) 1970

Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior (Vintage) 1976 (selections)

Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping (Picador) 1980

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (Vintage) 1985

Philip Roth, The Human Stain (Houghton Mifflin) 2000

Edward P. Jones, The Known World (Amistad) 2003

Students' Choice Novel for Spring, 2008: Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated (Houghton-Mifflin) 2002

Requirements

Students must complete the readings, explore archival material on the web for selected authors and attend all lectures.

Students must enroll in a section in order to take the course; attendance at section will not only enhance the intellectual benefit and pleasure of the course (and will fill out 5% of your grade) but will also help you in preparing the papers. Your papers and exams will be graded by your TF.

Written work will consist of:

1. Two graded papers: each a literary analysis of a single text, minimum 5 pages, maximum 8 pages.

2. Final exam: will cover the whole semester; identifications, passage readings, and one essay. The papers, lectures and section discussions, if pursued with energy and attended regularly, should prepare you well for the exam.

Grading

Paper 1: 30%
Paper 2: 30%
Final exam: 35%
Discussion section attendance and participation: 5%

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Course Books and Other Related Titles

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