English 203

Graduate Readings: Post-9/11 Fiction

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2013 Snyder, Katherine
M 1-4 301 Wheeler

Book List

Cole, Teju: Open City; Cunningham, Michael: Specimen Days; DeLillo, Don: Falling Man; Gibson, William: Pattern Recognition; Halaby, Laila: Once in a Promised Land; Hamid, Mohsin: The Reluctant Terrorist; McCarthy, Tom: Remainder; McEwan, Ian: Saturday; Moore, Laurie: A Gate at the Stairs; O'Neill, Joseph: Netherland; Waldman, Amy: The Submission; Whitehead, Colson: Zone One

Other Readings and Media

A selection of short stories, essays, and critical and theoretical pieces will be made available on bSpace. 


Note: Those interested in taking the course, please email me (ksnyder@berkeley.edu) the first week of classes for the reading assignment required for our first seminar meeting on September 9.

For more than a decade, reviewers and critics have lamented the failure of post-9/11 fiction to respond adequately to the aesthetic, affective, and ethical demands of that infamous day and its protracted political, cultural, and economic aftermaths. These readers have particularly complained about the tendency of this fiction to domesticate the events of 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror: by falling back upon nostalgic and sentimental affect rather than stepping up to rational analysis; by envisioning presumed or actual losses of national security and international standing in terms of personal discomfort and familial or romantic disharmony; in short, by retreating inward and backward rather than looking outward and forward. In this seminar, we will examine the theoretical and political assumptions behind these negative critical assessments, while reading a selection of canonical and lesser-known post-9/11 novels that may confirm and/or challenge these views. We will pay particular attention to post-9/11 novels that explicitly or obliquely “rewrite” iconic literary works, taking the elective affinities of these contemporary novels for their intertextual literary predecessors as both symptom and resource, while attending to the enlistment and critique of trauma theory in the reception of post-9/11 fiction.

This course satisfies the Group 5 (20th[-21st] century) requirement.

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