English 190

Research Seminar: The Historical Novel


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2022 Bernes, Jasper
TTh 5-6:30 Wheeler 305

Book List

Burns, Anna: Milkman; Doctorow, E. L.: Ragtime; Morrison, Toni: Song of Solomon; Spufford, Francis: Red Plenty; Welch, James: Fools Crow

Description

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 —works such as 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.

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