American Studies

Evan B Carton

Affiliate FacultyPh.D., 1979, Johns Hopkins University

Evan B Carton



19th and 20th century American literature, literary and cultural theory and histiography, antebellum evagelism, secularism, radcial politics


AMS 391 • Global American Novel

30760 • Fall 2016
Meets MW 1100am-1230pm PAR 214
(also listed as E 395M)

This course will explore issues--and changes in the construction--of place, identity, nation, faith, and form in the American novel over the course of the U. S.’s entrance into, and emergence as a hegemon within, the global cultural and political economy. Though the predominant focus will be on novels of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries that involve transnational settings and themes and/or are produced by writers with bi- or multi-national origins and commitments, the course will begin with a survey of classic critical framings of and approaches to the American novel and with two or three touchstone novels from earlier pre- or proto-imperial periods in American literary history. Though many configurations are possible, a sample textual trajectory might look like this: Hawthorne, The Marble Faun; Dos Passos, Nineteen Nineteen; Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room; Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible; DeLillo, The Names; O’Neill, Netherland; Lara, Erzulie’s Skirt; Lee, The Surrendered; Adichie, Americanah.

I am interested in conducting the course in a way that offers individual students--and offers the class as a whole--the chance to assemble, configure, and debate a canon of novels under the “global American novel” rubric as well as to resist or revise that rubric in ways they find productive for or compatible with their particular interests. Accordingly, each student will be assigned to choose, read, and present to the class one additional novel that s/he will be responsible for putting in dialog with the common novels on the syllabus and the issues of the course. (This individual selection may be a novel not by a U. S. writer but by a foreign respondent to “global America”--e.g.. Greene’s The Quiet American, Rushdie’s Fever, Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, maybe even one of Murakami’s U. S. pop culture-saturated novels, etc.) The 20-minute class presentation on the chosen novel will include a selective annotated bibliography, a critical plot and thematic synopsis, and a 10-15 page excerpt, which documents will be made available to the class in advance. Other student writing will include discussion board posts, a book review, and a final essay.

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