This advanced course will focus on representative novels and short stories of twenty-first-century literature in English and in English translation. In what ways have these literary works of the twenty-first century reshaped both novel and short story forms in order to respond to the crises that define our present moment? How is the distribution and circulation of these works influenced by developments in technology and social media? What are the dominant criteria of success for literary works? We will look to answer these crucial questions by focusing on the form and content of a collection of short stories and novels published since the year 2000. We will play close attention to how these works tackle the following topics in particular: the legacies of wars and violence that unfolded in the 20th century; climate change and environmental disaster; the construction of alternative realities; and new conceptions of selfhood.
- Arrive at a keener understanding of developments in contemporary fiction.
- Gain a more thorough grasp of literary theories of the novel and short story.
- Be able to discern how various crises and technological developments affect literary form.
- Improve their literary analysis skills, critical reading, thinking, and writing skills, as well as research and oral presentation skills.
3 hours a week. Class meetings will consist of class discussion, mini-lectures, writing workshops, student-led presentations, and impromptu writing exercises. Reading guides and questions will be provided in class in order to facilitate class discussions. Students will be reading novels, theoretical pieces, and book reviews. Because we meet only once a week, attendance is mandatory. Students should organize their reading schedules carefully as high-quality class discussions depend upon completing the readings assigned each week.
100% by coursework
Participation (attendance, class discussion, student-led presentations) 25%
A short, close-reading paper 25%
An annotated bibliography 20%
A research paper 30%
- Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others (2002), excerpts
- Junot Díaz, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)
- Ken Liu, The Paper Menagerie (2016), excerpts
- Lesley Nneka Arimah, What it Means When A Man Falls From The Sky (2017), excerpts
- Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties (2017), excerpts
- David Diop, At Night All Blood is Black (2018)
- Akwaeke Emezi, Freshwater (2018)
- Tara June Winch, The Yield (2020)
*A selection of secondary sources will be uploaded to Moodle.