English N125E

The Contemporary Novel

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Session Course Areas
1 Summer 2010 Marcial Gonzalez
MWF 12-2 166 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

D. Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina; D. Giardina, Storming Heaven; C. Pineda, Frieze; R. Ruiz, Happy Birthday Jesus; D. Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun; J. Wideman, Philadelphia Fire; K. Yamashita, Tropic of Orange


In this course, we will read seven contemporary novels published from 1939 to 1997.  The common thread in these novels is that they all focus on the internal turmoil of characters involved in social conflicts: war, racism, sexism, sexual abuse, child abuse, the criminal justice system, and class exploitation. Consequently, the characters in these novels are affected by extreme forms of alienation, reification, disconnection, fragmentation, paranoia, and hopelessness. Yet despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles they also display an urgent desire to comprehend and change the social world in which they live. In addition to reading these novels as social commentaries, we will be attentive to such formal literary features as style, point of view, symbolism, irony, characterization, and narrative structure.  Methodologically, we will situate each novel in its historical context, but we will also emphasize the importance of close textual analysis.  A long paper and several short writing assignments will be required.

This course is taught in Session A, from May 24th to July 2nd.

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