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American Narratives II

Semester and Year FA 2016
Course Number IDSEM-UG1735
Section 001
Instructor George Shulman
Days R
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM


Prerequisite IDSEM-UG 1592 or IDSEM-UG 1844 or IDSEM-UG 1450 or IDSEM-UG 1272 or permission of the instructor (


The goal of this course is to create a conversation between post world war two American literature and political thought. We focus especially on the relationship between theorists making arguments using the genre of the treatise or monograph, and literary artists dramatizing protagonists acting in fictional worlds. What theoretical and political difference do differences of genre make in how readers (and citizens) apprehend and act in the world? But we also pursue more substantive questions. First, how is politics (and the meaning of democracy) represented in both theory and fiction? Second, how do literary artists represent and rework the dominant idioms tropes of American politics - especially ideas of the frontier, self-making, freedom, and related claims to American exceptionalism? Third, how are the politics of race and gender addressed in and by literary art in comparison to works of theory? Fourth, do critics and writers affirm -or dramatize and trouble- the pervasive and typically unquestioned attachment to the idea of "America?" What is the relationship between re-imagining (and redeeming) American nationhood, and in contrast, imagining anti-national or diasporic identifications? Our theorists include C. Wright Mills, Norman O. Brown, Sheldon Wolin, Judith Butler, Jacques Ranciere, Lauren Berlant, Kimberlee Crenshaw, Gloria Anzaldua, and Eve Sedgwick; our literary artists may include Thomas Pynchon, Norman Mailer, Allan Ginsberg, Phillip Roth, James Baldwin, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison.


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Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)