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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kim Phuong Trinh
ENGL 242
Seattle Campus

Reading Prose Fiction

Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.

Class description

What happens when the world we know suddenly disappears, replaced by something else—something strange? How is a new world order resurrected? How does an individual survive in the face of unimaginable loss but also unlimited possibility? This course is a survey of American “post-apocalyptic fiction,” wherein “the apocalypse” signals not simply a moment of complete and total destruction of the world as we know it but the intersection between destruction and creation as well as the fragments and remnants produced by such violence. We will consider the way in which the creation of a new world order enables writers to interrogate, deconstruct, and re-present their historical, political, and social realities. We will consider the ways in which fiction mediates the loss of the old world as well as the birth of a new one, and what these visions for a brave new world—a post-apocalyptic America—reveal about the anxieties of shifting technological, social, and political conditions. What do the disjunctions, discontinuities, and fragmentations that exist in these novels reveal about the ideological production, articulation, and repression of certain individual and collective identities? What alternative genealogies, histories, or critical interventions emerge when we focus on the uncertainties—the “gaps in narrative” that cannot be filled—that exist alongside the totality and finality of the world’s end?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures, class discussions, and group work.

Recommended preparation

There is no formal prerequisite for this class. However, prior completion of an expository writing course (English 111/121/131), an interdisciplinary writing course in the humanities (English 197/297), or another 200- or 300-level English class would better prepare you for the work in this class.

Class assignments and grading

This class fulfills the University of Washington’s “W” requirement, which means that you may apply the course towards the additional 7-10 writing credits required by the university. Writing is a critical component of this class, and you will be expected to complete 10-15 pages of graded, out-of-class writing, in the form of two major papers. You will have an opportunity to submit rough drafts, meet with me to discuss your essay, and complete substantive revisions prior to turning in the two major papers.


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 Kim Phuong Trinh
Date: 11/16/2013