AU: 4.0
Programme: ELH(HSS)

This course analyzes and interprets American culture mostly from the first half of the twentieth century, including fiction, poetry, and film, looking at the way that the conditions of modernity engendered new forms that go beyond the earlier novel/romance dichotomy. We'll study realism (Cather); naturalism in its classic, modernist, and Depression-era forms (London, Stein, Steinbeck, respectively); as well as classic modernists Eliot, Hemingway, and West, examining their experiments involving perspective, language, history, memory, and the surreal. We'll study the dark filmic vision of film noir, focusing on patterns of corrupt morality, cold passion, and dehumanizing modernity. The short fiction of the Southern Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor will be discussed in terms of the grotesque and the cultural division of country and city. We'll read Naked Lunch, Burroughs' shockingly experimental work examining power and addiction. We'll conclude with a novel by Robinson that explores the mystery and beauty of smalltown domestic life. Student assignments: one research paper and one oral presentation.