E. Laurie George
Recent efforts to change the shape and direction of the novel by such writers as Murdoch, Barth, Hawkes, Fowles, and Atwood.
English 342A Fall, 2008 "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close": Contemporary Novels of Immersion
As the terrestrial world is warming up, the literary one is cooling down. A century ago, books engaged the heart as well as the mind, and when we read, emotion seized us, took us over, broke us down. . . . this deep engagement is now rare. Passion is largely absent from our books: an icy chill has crept across the writer�s landscape.
--Roxanne Robinson, Literary Critic "The Big Chill" The New York Times Book Review "We're all one beat away from becoming elevator music."
--Don DeLillo, Novelist
The title of this course alludes to New York writer Jonathan Foer's 2005 novel about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This novel and others of our time represent one trend in fiction toward full body "immersion" fiction meant not just to engage the mind but seize the senses, especially the soul.
This means that the novels we read in this course will not be sentimentally soothing;no elevator music for us--but neither will they be merely sensational, meant merely to shock without thought. Some will be formally innovative,using contemporary techniques of formatting to deepen your reading engagement beyond merely aesthetic to historic and political realms. All should engage the heart as we attempt to steer clear of Don DeLillo's fatalistic prediction for the contemporary novel.
We will average a novel every 1.5 to 2 weeks, and the following we will be included in our reading and dicussion: Nicole Krauss, The History of Love; Ali Smith, Hotel World; Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men; Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis; Jonathan Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; Petterson, Out Stealing Horses; J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace. We may view one or two film adaptations of particular novels and read popular and scholarly reviews of those films to discover more about movies and audience immersion.
Course work includes active, thoughtful, vocal, in-person participation; short writing assignments; and a final examination.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading