English 125E

The Contemporary Novel: The Historical Novel

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2020 Bernes, Jasper
TTh 11-12:30


Texts: Anna Burns: Milkman; E. L. Doctorow: Ragtime; Amitav Ghosh: Sea of Poppies; Toni Morrison: Song of Solomon; Viet Thanh Nguyen: The Sympathizer 

What is historical and what is fictional about the genre of historical fiction? Since the nineteenth century, this oxymoronic genre has redrawn the border between history and fiction, realism and romance. In this survey, we will begin by reading a couple of examples from the 1970s—Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon and E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime—and then focus primarily on novels from the twenty-first century. How is the sense of history these novels offer itself a product of changing history? In pursuing answers from contemporaries, we might also wonder about the future of historical fiction, not to mention fiction and history more broadly.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Back to Semester List