English R1B

Contemporary American Narrative

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
14 Fall 2009 Gordon, Zachary
Gordon, Zachary
TTh 12:30-2 225 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers 6 th edition; Norman Mailer, The Armies of the Night; Toni Morrison, Jazz; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (volumes I and II); a course reader with selections from Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Theresa Cha, Joan Didion, George Orwell, and Helena María Viramontes.


This course will focus on strengthening your critical reading and writing skills through the study of contemporary American narrative. While the overarching thematic concerns of the course will be our texts’ self-conscious engagements with history, identity formation, and the limits of verbal and visual representation, we’ll also be exploring the formal features particular to each of these works and developing strategies for building claims around these features. How, for instance, does the ordering of events or their mediation by a narrator influence our reading of a text? How does a text work with or undercut our assumptions about how stories are constructed in order to achieve a particular effect? At what point does a historical narrative or autobiography become fictional?

Writing requirements: three longer essays, the last of which will incorporate independent research, and substantial revisions.

Back to Semester List