English 190

Research Seminar: Colossi of PoMo: Landmarks of American Postmodernism


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
9 Fall 2019 Danner, Mark
Tues. 2-5 305 Wheeler

Book List

Gaddis, William: The Recognitions; Heller, Joseph: Catch-22; Pynchon, Thomas: Gravity's Rainbow; Wallace, David Foster: Infinite Jest

Description

Whatever can be said about postmodernism in literature—and its virtues and vices, not to mention its definitional attributes, are endlessly debated—in its apocalyptic ambitions it was an anathema on the trees. Postmodernism's progress can be traced along a mountain ridge of massive paper behemoths, beginning with William Gaddis' The Recognitions of 1952, to Joseph Heller's Catch-22 in 1962, Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow in 1973, and up to and including David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest of 1996.  In this research seminar we will ascend these Colossi of Pomo, while pausing to admire glimpses of more modest peaks—Kathy Acker, John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Angela Carter—along the way. From the heights, and in our final research papers, we will seek to judge the aims and the accomplishmests of postmodernism's Big Novel.

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