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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jill E. Gatlin
ENGL 355
Seattle Campus

American Literature: Contemporary America

Works by such writers as Ellison, Williams, O' Connor, Lowell, Barth, Rich, and Hawkes.

Class description

Postmodernism and (In)Authenticity.

"The authentic! Shadows of it sweep past in dreams, one could say imprecisely" --"Matins," Denise Levertov

In this course, we'll explore contemporary American literature by examining themes of authenticity and inauthenticity. If "authenticity" often translates to terms such as truth, reality, meaning, and value, what does it mean when theorists of postmodernism declare that nothing is "authentic"? What does it mean to think of the world, of our selves, and of our identities as "real" or "authentic," on the one hand, or as representations, cultural constructions, textual artifacts, or simulations, on the other hand? As we read postmodernist novels, short stories, and poems, we'll look at problems of authentic cultural identities, authentic nature experiences, and authentic knowledge production. Texts may include Don DeLillo's White Noise, Ruth Ozeki's My Year of Meats, Maxine Hong Kingston's Tripmaster Monkey, Linda Hogan's Power, Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, short stories by Rick Bass, poems by Sherman Alexie and nila northSun, and essays by Frederic Jameson, Brian McHale, Jean Baudrillard, Walker Percy, Kate Soper, and William Cronon.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction


Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Course requirements include attentive reading, active participation in daily discussions and in-class activities, presentations, discussion leading, formal response papers, informal writing, and a final paper.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Jill E. Gatlin
Date: 02/25/2008