English 174

Literature and History: The Seventies

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2016 Saul, Scott
TTh 3:30-5 note new location: 3111 Etcheverry

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As one historian has quipped, it was the worst of times, it was the worst of times. “The ’70s” routinely come in for mockery: even at the time, it was known as the decade when “it seemed like nothing happened.”

Yet we can see now that the ’70s was a time of cultural renaissance. It gave us the New Hollywood of Scorcese, Coppola and others; the music of funk, disco, punk and New Wave; the postmodern comedy of Saturday Night Live and the postmodern drama of Sam Shepard, Maria Irene Fornes and others; and a great range of literary fiction written by women authors from Ursula LeGuin and Margaret Atwood to Toni Morrison and Maxine Hong Kingston. It was also a period of intense political realignments — the moment the United States was roiled by the oil crisis, the fall of Nixon and the fall of Saigon; by the advent of women’s liberation, gay liberation, and environmentalism as mass grassroots movements; and by the rise of the Sunbelt and the dawning of the conservative revolution. One might even say that the ’70s were the most interesting decade of the post-WWII era -- the period when the dreams of the ‘60s were most intensely, if achingly, fulfilled.

Films discussed in the class will include The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Network, and Saturday Night Fever. Authors to be discussed will include, among others, Walter Abish, Raymond Carver, Joan Didion, Michael Herr, Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison, and others.

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