The course will be organized around three issues of social change and their representation in contemporary literature. This semester, for example, issues will include "the working poor," domestic abuse, and racial violence in America. We will examine works that self-consciously assume the task of depicting specific social conditions, but our focus will not be limited to those works; we will also explore the idea of "representation" in general as a means of thinking about how all literature enters into dialogue with the larger world in which it originates. Because part of our analysis will involve comparing literary with non-literary representations, we will also explore examples of social criticism in contemporary film and photography.
student will be responsible for giving an in-class presentation that approaches
an issue of social change through a non-literary medium (20%). Other requirements
for the course include a critical essay (30%) and a longer final project
of the student's own design (40%), as well as class participation and attendance
(10%). Literary texts may include Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag,
Toni Morrison's Beloved, and Stewart O'Nan's Last Night at the
Lobster, as well as short fiction by Junot Diaz, Russell Banks, Gloria
Naylor, Gish Jen, James Baldwin and Sherman Alexie and essays by Barbara
Ehrenreich and Eric Schlosser.
Last Updated: 05-DEC-12