Fall 2021

21L.501 The American Novel: We’re All In This Together? Sandy Alexandre TR 2:30-4:00p

Prereq: Permission of instructor
3-0-9 HASS-H; Can be repeated for credit
Topics: Improves Close Reading, Thinks about Gender or Sexuality, Thinks about Popular Culture, Thinks about Race or Class, Thinks about Social Justice Issues, Works with Visual Materials/Film/Media

In this course we will read novels that try to think about storytelling in terms of collective as opposed to individual striving. What do novels that try to veer away from creating or focusing on a singular hero have to suggest about possibilities for building solidarity? How does a writer craft a novel that depends on the characters’ interdependence with one another? Do we learn anything (new, different, interesting, or useful) from a novel’s attempt to encourage us to unlearn relying solely on one protagonist for readerly pleasure and understanding? What particular novels explore the ways in which this very attempt—while laudable—can fail miserably or even comically? These are just some of the questions we will attempt to answer in reading the following texts: William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying (1930), George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945), Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), Toni Morrison’s Paradise (1997), Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You (2014), and Tommy Orange’s There There (2018)