English 3650A Contemporary Literature (2011)

English 3650A
Contemporary Literature
MWF 14:00 – 14:50 PM

UH B-730 Instructor: Dr. Kiki Benzon
Office Hours: MF 15:00 – 16:00
UH B-810k

T.A.: Kent Aardse
Office Hours: TBA
UH B-810i

This course covers late twentieth- and twenty-first century literary trends. We will look at writing that demonstrates important formal aspects of postmodern fiction and reflects the cultural conditions of the period. A small number of theoretical essays will inform our interpretations of the primary readings. Our literary exploration will consider six main topics: Cultural Critique, Narrative Innovation, Historical Revision, Image and Text, Science and Technology, and Electronic Literature.

Required Texts: Geyh, Leebron and Levy (eds.), The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Literature; Don DeLillo, Libra; Steve Tomasula, Vas: An Opera in Flatland.

Evaluation: midterm exam (25%); essay (25%); e-literature entry (20%); final exam (30%).

Prerequisites: any two 2000-level English courses.

Week 1: Jan 10 – 14 Cultural Critique
M Introduction to the course
W Ihab Hassan, “Toward a Concept of Postmodernism”
Fredric Jameson, from Postmodernism and Consumer Capitalism
F Umberto Eco, from Postscript to The Name of the Rose; Kurt Vonnegut, from Breakfast of Champions

Week 2: Jan 17 – 21
M Jean Baudrillard, “Simulacra and Simulation”; Mark Leyner, “Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog”
W Michael Berubé, “Just the Fax M’am”; Robert Coover,“A Night at the Movies”
F Hélène Cixous, from Sorties: Out and Out: Attacks/Ways Out/Forays; Bell Hooks, “Postmodern Blackness”

Week 3: Jan 24 – 28 Narrative Innovation
M Curtis White, from Memories of My Father Watching T.V.
W Walter Abish, “Ardor/Awe/Atrocity”; Donald Barthelme, “Sentence”
F Joyce Carol Oats, “The Turn of the Screw”

Week 4: Jan 31 – Feb 4 Historical Revision
M David Foster Wallace, “Lyndon”
W Art Speigleman, from Maus
F Susan Daitch, “X ≠ Y”

Week 5: Feb 7 – 11 Electronic Literature
M Midterm Exam (25%)
W Terry Harpold, “Conclusions”
Jane Yellowlees Douglas, from I have Said Nothing
Michael Joyce, from afternoon, a story
F Electronic Literature Directory (see http://directory.eliterature.org and http://collection.eliterature.org/1/)
Nick Monfort, “The Purpling” (http://research-intermedia.art.uiowa.edu/tirw /vol9n2/artworks/The_Purpling/index.html)
Mark Amerika, GRAMMATRON (http://www.grammatron.com/)

Week 6: Feb 14 – 18
M Shelly Jackson, “My Body – A Wunderkammer” (http://collection.eliterature. org/1/works/jackson__my_body_a_wunderkammer.html)
W ELD and E-Literature Entry Workshop
F E-Literature Entry Due – First Draft (10%); Don DeLillo, Libra

Week 7: Feb 21 – 25 Reading Week – No Class

Week 8: Feb 28 – Mar 4
M E-Literature Entry Due – Peer Edited (5%)
Don DeLillo, Libra
W Don DeLillo, Libra
F Don DeLillo, Libra

Week 9: Mar 7 – 11
M E-Literature Entry Due – Second Draft, for Submission to ELD (5%)
Don DeLillo, Libra
W Don DeLillo, Libra
F Don DeLillo, Libra

Week 10: Mar 14 – 18 Image and Text
M Writing Essays
W Mark Z. Danielewski, from House of Leaves (handout)
F Paul Auster, from City of Glass; Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli, from Paul Auster’s City of Glass

Week 11: Mar 21 – 25
M Steve Tomasula, Vas: An Opera in Flatland
W Steve Tomasula, Vas: An Opera in Flatland
F Steve Tomasula, Vas: An Opera in Flatland

Week 12: Mar 28 – Apr 1
M Steve Tomasula, Vas: An Opera in Flatland
W Steve Tomasula, Vas: An Opera in Flatland
F Donna Harroway, from A Cyborg Manifesto

Week 13: Apr 4 – 8 Science and Technology
M Essay Due (25%); William Gibson, “The Grunsback Continuum”
W Neal Stevenson, “Snow Crash”
F Octavia Butler, from Imago

Week 14: Apr 11 – 15
M Ursula K. Le Guin, “Schrodinger’s Cat”
W Gerald Vizenor, “Feral Laser”
F E-Literature Entry Due – Final Draft, Incorporates ELD Edits (5%); Review for Final Exam

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

Course Policies: Papers handed in after the due date will be subject to a reduction of half a letter grade per day late. An “A” paper, in other words, will receive an “A-” grade if it is handed in one day late. 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.