E 338 • American Literature: From 1865 to the Present
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
This course aims to explore some fundamental aspects of the American Imagination from an aesthetic and anthropological perspective through a relevant corpus of prose fiction, mostly. Our readings of the texts listed below will be based on close textual analyses focusing primarily on the questions of representation as these emerge and evolve in an American cultural tradition of self-discovery and self-recognition through reflected images. Accordingly issues of perception, of vision, of revelation, of objectivity, of realism, of ambiguity, of spuriousness, of irony, of mockery will be examined in their dramatic enactments through the period singled out for this course. Cognately, the overlapping of genresjournalistic, documentary, fictionbound up with Americas anxiety to gather pictures of herself will enlist our attention.
In the process some major American cultural traits related to the New Worlds unrelenting search for a real identity through experience and revelations will be embraced in relation to their aesthetic modes of representation. The endurance of Puritan hermeneutics, the interplay of romance and journalism, a specifically American brand of writing, will be of prime interest to us. Thus the prevalence of the gaze, of wonder, of disenchantment, of mystery and revelation in American literature along with the dramatic elaborations they give rise to will loom large in our approach of the individual aesthetic achievements of the major contemporary American authors listed below.
Henry James, The Real Thing (H. J., Selected Tales, Everyman)
Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time (Scribner)
F. S. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (Scribner)
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text (Vintage)
James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (Houghton Mifflin)
C. McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Café (Bantam Books)
William Gaddis, Carpenters Gothic (Viking)
2 short papers 30%
Class participation 25%
Reading Responses 20%
Final exam 25%