For a lack of anything else intelligent to say at this hour, I’m posting descriptions for two of the undergrad courses that I’m teaching next fall:
21st Century American Fiction
What innovative directions is American fiction taking in the new millennium? How have novelists and other writers reacted to the dominant events of the past few years: the dot-com bust and ensuing recession; the 9/11 terrorist attacksand the War on Terror; the U.S. invasion of Iraq and its impact at home and abroad; and the ascendancy of the virtual world? In this advanced literature course we will examine the trends, assumptions, and anxieties reflected in an assortment of recent fiction, published by both rising stars and well established writers.
Apocalyptic Thought in American Fiction
There is a long history of apocalyptic thought in American fiction, and in this class we will examine the relationship between visions of the end and the social and historical contexts that give rise to those visions. We will consider the literary renderings of both religious apocalyptic scenarios (Doomsday, the Rapture, the Second Coming) and secular apocalyptic scenarios (environmental, biological, nuclear). The final portion of the class will consider the Journey into the Wilderness–a long-standing tradition in apocalyptic literature. We will treat the fiction we read as exactly that: fiction. In other words, we are not studying the apocalypse, but rather, representations of the apocalypse. As such, these representations reveal more about our anxieties and concerns with the present world than about any deeply held belief we hold about the end of the universe.