English 166

Special Topics: The 20th-Century Epic in Prose

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2006 Rubenstein, Michael
Rubenstein, Michael
TTh 9:30-11 110 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Joyce, J.: Ulysses (selections); Garcia-Marquez, G.: One Hundred Years of Solitude; Rushdie, S.: Satanic Verses; Chamoiseau, P.: Texaco


Historically the epic has to do with heroes. The problem in the twentieth century, with the �coming of the state,� of rationalization and modernization, is that the age of heroes is, generally speaking, over. How does the novel, then, both preserve some epic functions and break with epic tradition? If heroes are dead, what emerges in their narrative place? Why does the traditional verse epic seem to mutate generically, by the 20th century, into the encyclopedic novel? If epics are traditionally attempts to tell a story about some sort of totality, like a nation or a people, what kinds of totalities does the 20th century epic imagine? Two medium-length papers and bi-weekly short writing assignments (counting as your participation grade) are required.

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