Michelle S. Liu
Themes and topics offering special approaches to literature.
This course will focus as much on selected American texts as the act of reading itself. What do we expect out of fiction in an age of declining readerships and the ascendancy of television and electronic media? We will start with the controversies surrounding Nella Larsen’s Passing, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. We will then use the discussions generated from these books to frame our reading of such texts as David Shields’ Reality Hunger and the essays of Sven Birkerts in The Gutenberg Elegies: the Fate of Reading in the Electronic Age. While class time will be devoted to exploring critical readings of these texts, we will spend much time on connecting these texts to considering the relationship of reading to a culture dominated by the sound byte and the visual. Some of the questions we will ask:what is the relationship of fiction to the “real world”? Is it Oprah’s world and are we merely living in it? How (and even if!) is reading still relevant?
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