English 125E

The Contemporary Novel: The Novel Since 2000

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2012 Serpell, C. Namwali
TTh 12:30-2 NOTE NEW ROOM: F295 Haas School of Business (east side of campus)

Book List

Díaz, Junot: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Foer, Jonathan Safran: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go; McCarthy, Cormac: The Road; McCarthy, Tom: Remainder; McEwan, Ian: Atonement; Morrison, Toni: Home; Smith, Zadie: White Teeth


We who study literature are perhaps always belated. This course aims to redefine at least one literary period: the “contemporary” novel, scholarship about which sometimes stretches as far back as novels written in the 1950s! I protest. It ought to mean novels now. And so: a survey of British and American novels written since 2000. That is, novels written during your lifetime. We will be interested in historical context, formal features, ways of knowing, and the ethical and political resonance of this literature. We will examine debates about the status of the novel, competing genres, and new technologies of reading. The reading will include eight novels, a few reviews, and published debates—journalistic and academic, measured and polemical—about the fate and fortunes of the contemporary novel. Reading one or more of the novels in advance is highly recommended. We will begin with White Teeth.

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