New Literature: ENGLIT 0635

I just finished designing the course I’m going to be teaching in the Spring at Pitt, New Literature (ENGLIT 0635), which I’ve titled “U.S. Fiction in the Wake of Postmodernism,” and I am quite excited about it! One of the challenges for such a course (whose online course description is incredibly broad, literally any lit. from the past 25 years, not limited to region, country, genre, style, school, etc.), is figuring out what exactly is meant by “new” literature. Consequently, I’m beginning the course where I often end other courses–Don DeLillo’s White Noise–and am taking up very seriously the idea that the lit. we’re reading is, if not precisely “after” postmodernism (not post-postmodernism, a useless term), then at least positioned in its wake–i.e. the pomo is still around, but it has also left, or something. The class will start w/ grounding pomo in fairly “standard” ways, move through Southland Tales, through some “theory” as lit. (informed by DFWs old “Fictional Futures” essay) and end by seriously considering two U.S. novels that have gotten quite a bit of play as of late, Freedom and The Submission. New lit. indeed. Below is the major reading list, followed by the rest. . .

Don DeLillo, White Noise: Text and Criticism, ed. Mark Osteen (New York: Penguin, 1998 [1985]).

Jonathan Franzen, Freedom (New York: Picador, 2011 [2010]). 

Richard Kelly & Brett Weldele, Southland Tales: The Prequel Saga (Anaheim: Graphitti Designs, 2007).

Amy Waldman, The Submission (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011).

David Foster Wallace, Girl with Curious Hair (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1989).

Slavoj Žižek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real (New York: Verso, 2002).


And the additional reading:

Jonathan Franzen, “Why Bother” in How to Be Alone: Essays (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002), 55-97.

Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), 217-253.

Jean Baudrillard, “The Precession of Simulacra” in Simulacra and Simulation, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994), 1-42.

John Barth, “Lost in the Funhouse” in Lost in the Funhouse: Fiction for Print, Tape, Live Voice (New York: Anchor Books, 1988 [1968]), 72-97.

Fredric Jameson, “The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” in Postmodernism; or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991), 1-55.

David Foster Wallace, “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction” in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never do Again (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1996), 21-82.

David Foster Wallace, “Octet” in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1999), 131-160.

Steven Shaviro, “Southland Tales,” The Pinocchio Theory (weblog),

David Foster Wallace, “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young,” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 8.3 (1988): 36-53,

Jacques Derrida, “No Apocalypse, Not Now (Full Speed Ahead, Seven Missiles, Seven Missives),” trans. Catherine Porter & Philip Lewis, in Psyche: Inventions of the Other, Vol. 1, ed. Peggy Kamuf & Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 387-410.

Fredric Jameson, “New Literary History and the End of the New,” New Literary History 39.3 (Summer 2008): 375-87.

Lev Grossman, “Jonathan Franzen: The Wide Shot,” Time 176.8 (Aug. 23, 2010): 42-8, time/magazine/article /0,9171,2010185,00.html.

Michiko Kakutani, “A Family Full of Unhappiness, Hoping for Transcendence,” The New York Times (Aug. 15, 2010), C1,

Sam Tanenhaus, “Peace and War,” The New York Times Book Review (Aug. 19, 2010), 2010/08/29/books/review/Tanenhaus-t.html?ref=books

B.R. Myers, “Smaller Than Life,” The Atlantic (Oct. 2010), 10/smaller-than-life/8212/

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