English 3650A Contemporary Literature (2009)

English 3650A Contemporary Literature  *  MW 16:00 – 17:15 PM  *  Dr. Kiki Benzon  *  kiki.benzon@uleth.ca  *  Office Hours:  TH 15:00 – 16:00 University Hall B-810K

This course covers late twentieth- and twenty-first century literary trends. We will look at writing that demonstrates important formal aspects of postmodern and cybernetic ficstion, while reflecting the cultural conditions of the period. A small number of theoretical essays will inform our interpretations of the primary readings. Our exploration of contemporary literature will be divided into five main themes: Narrative Innovation, Historical Revision, Image and Text, Science and Technology, and Writing and New Media.

Required Texts:
Geyh, Leebron and Levy, eds. The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Literature.
Auster, Paul. The New York Trilogy.
DeLillo, Don. Libra.
Moulthrop, Stuart. Victory Garden.
Tomasula, Steve. Vas: An Opera in Flatland.

Evaluation: midterm exam (25%); short paper (15%); final paper (30%); final exam (30%).

Prerequisites: any two 2000-level courses.

Weekly Outline:

Week One: Jan 7. Introduction to the course
Wed. Ihab Hassan, “Towards a Concept of Postmodernism”

Week Two: Jan 12 – 26. Narrative Innovation
Mon. Michael Bérubé, from Public Access; Kurt Vonnegut, from Breakfast of Champions
Wed. Walter Abish, “Ardor/Awe/Atrocity”; Donald Barthelme, “Sentence”

Week Three: Jan 19 – 23.
Mon. Umberto Eco, from Postscript to The Name of the Rose; Mark Leyner, from Toothprints on a Corn Dog
Wed. Joyce Carol Oats, “The Turn of the Screw”

Week Four: Jan 26 – 30.
Mon. Paul Auster, “City of Glass” from The New York Trilogy
Wed. Paul Auster,”City of Glass” from The New York Trilogy

Week Five: Feb 2 – 6.
Mon. Fredric Jameson, from Postmodernism and Consumer Capitalism; Jean Baudrillard, from Simulacra and Simulation
Wed. Midterm (25%)

Week Six: Feb 9 – 13. Spring Break.

Week Seven: Feb 16 – 20. Historical Revision
Mon. Don DeLillo, Libra
Wed. Don DeLillo, Libra

Week Eight: Feb 23 – 27. Image and Text.
Mon. Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli, from Paul Auster’s City of Glass
Wed. Art Speigleman, from Maus

Week Nine: Mar 2 – 6.
Mon. Steve Tomasula. Vas: An Opera in Flatland
Wed. Steve Tomasula. Vas: An Opera in Flatland Short paper due (15%).

Week Ten: Mar 9 – 13. Science and Technology.
Mon. Donna Harroway, from A Cyborg Manifesto; William Gibson, “The Grunsback Continuum”
Wed. Neal Stevenson, from Snow Crash

Week Eleven: Mar 16 – 20.
Mon. Douglas Coupland, from Generation X; Gerald Vizenor, “Feral Laser”
Wed. Ursula le Guin, Schroedinger’s Cat; Octavia Butler, from Imago

Week Twelve: Mar 23 – 27. Writing and New Media.
Mon. Terry Harpold, “Conclusions”
Wed. Jane Yellowlees Douglas, from I have Said Nothing; Michael Joyce, from afternoon, a story (see electronic selections from Joyce and Douglas at www.wwnorton.com)

Week Thirteen: Mar 30 – Apr 3.
Mon. Jorges Luis Borges, “The Garden of Forking Paths” (handout)
Wed. Stuart Moulthrop, Victory Garden

Week Fourteen: Apr 6 – 10.
Mon. Stuart Moulthrop, Victory Garden
Wed. Lexia Perplexia (www.altx.com/ebr)

Week Fifteen: April 13 – 17.
Mon. No class.
Wed. Review. Final paper due (30%)

Grade scale: A+ 91% to 100%; A 85% to 90%; A- 80% to 84%; B+ 77% to 79%; B 73% to 76%; B-70% to 72%; C+ 67% to 69%; C 63% to 66%; C- 60% to 62%; D+ 55% to 59%; D 50% to 54%; F <50%.

Course Policies: Papers handed in after the due date will be subject to a reduction of one full letter grade per day late, for up to four days. An “A” paper, in other words, will receive a “B” grade if it is handed in one day late. After four days, the paper will receive a zero. All papers must be written in accordance with MLA rules for citation and style. Plagiarism is theft; if plagiarism is suspected, the matter will be investigated and, if found guilty, the student will fail the course and may face further penalty from the university. A missed test or final exam will receive a zero grade.