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Viewing: ENG 399 : Contemporary Literature

Last approved: Fri, 07 Oct 2016 08:01:21 GMT

Last edit: Thu, 06 Oct 2016 13:19:07 GMT

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ENG (English)
Dual-Level Course
Cross-listed Course
Contemporary Literature
Contemporary Literature
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
English (16ENG)
Term Offering
Fall and Spring
Offered Alternate Years
Fall 2017
Previously taught as Special Topics?
Course Delivery
Face-to-Face (On Campus)

Grading Method
Graded with S/U option
Contact Hours
(Per Week)
Component TypeContact Hours
Course Attribute(s)
GEP (Gen Ed)

If your course includes any of the following competencies, check all that apply.
University Competencies

Course Is Repeatable for Credit
Jon Thompson

Open when course_delivery = campus OR course_delivery = blended OR course_delivery = flip
Enrollment ComponentPer SemesterPer SectionMultiple Sections?Comments
Open when course_delivery = distance OR course_delivery = online OR course_delivery = remote
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing and above

Is the course required or an elective for a Curriculum?
SIS Program CodeProgram TitleRequired or Elective?
16ENGBA-16LLTEnglish BA- LiteratureElective
16ENGLBAEnglish BAElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLCRWEnglish BA- Creative WritingElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLFLMEnglish BA- FilmElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLLWR English BA - Language, Writing , and RhetoricElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLTEDEnglish BA-Teacher EducationElective
16ENGLBA-16ENGLMEnglish BA- MinorElective
Literature from the twentieth-century and twenty-first century. Readings may be from various genres including fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry. Writers will be from the English-speaking world, but also reading may include writers outside it, that is, writers whose work has been translated into English. This course will track important developments, whether literary or cultural, in contemporary literature. Representative writers: Jean Rhys, James Baldwin, W.G. Sebald, Leslie Marmon Silko, August Wilson, Salman Rushdie and Wislawa Szymborska.

Part of the revisions for the new Literature Program concentration.


Is this a GEP Course?
GEP Categories
Global Knowledge
Humanities Open when gep_category = HUM
Each course in the Humanities category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
Interpret literature from the twentieth and twenty first centuries within their historical and cultural contexts.
Critical essays.
Sample essay question: The post WWII period in Europe and America was a period marked by social displacement and social change. Not surprisingly, travel is a subject of great interest in many texts of the period. Discuss W.S. Sebald’s view of travel in RINGS OF SATURN. Is traveling seen to be a temporary excursion or something more permanent? What kind of travel is focused on? Is travel seen as a source of fulfillment or not? If so, what kind of fulfillment? If not,why not? What are regarded to be the causes or motivations for travel—both individually and socially? Likewise, what are the results on the individual—and possibly—society of travel? Does travel have some larger purpose or not? What kinds of imagery does Sebald use to dramatize his sense of travel? Discuss.
Analyze, evaluate and/or synthesize different interpretations of literary texts. Use these literary texts to demonstrate different interpretations of key cultural events.
Critical essays.
Sample essay question: Terry Eagleton has argued that "the modernists were nomadic, in-between, adrift between cultures". Similarly, post WWII literature is fascinated by the figure of the outsider—the stranger or alien who shocks, dismays or amazes a given community with his ways (speech, values or manners). For Sebald, in RINGS OF SATURN what does the outsider represent? Write a critical essay arguing for seeing Sebald as a nomadic modernist. In this regard, is the outsider seen as positive or negative? To what extent is the outsider seen as successfully challenging the community he confronts? To what extent is “outsideness” seen as valuable—a corrective to the shortcomings or failures of the community in which the outsider comes to reside? What does the outsider—what does “outsideness” and being a "nomad"—teach about the limitations of community?
Compose well-developed critical essays that evaluate the relationship between contemporary literature and culture using methods appropriate to the traditions of humanistic interpretation and knowledge creation.
Critical essays.
Sample essay question: In GIOVANNI'S ROOM, James Baldwin explores the effects of racism and homophobia on a young, African-American male in Paris. According to the suggestions in the novel, how does racism come to be so powerful, so durable? What interlocking factors produce this strange--but all too familiar--phenomenon? What about homophobia? What class or group of individuals benefit from racism, from homophobia? Who does it injure or inhibit? Detail for Baldwin the various ways in which discrimination, whether race-based or based on sexual orientation, damages individuals and society at large.
Mathematical Sciences Open when gep_category = MATH
Each course in the Mathematial Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Natural Sciences Open when gep_category = NATSCI
Each course in the Natural Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Social Sciences Open when gep_category = SOCSCI
Each course in the Social Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Interdisciplinary Perspectives Open when gep_category = INTERDISC
Each course in the Interdisciplinary Perspectives category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Visual & Performing Arts Open when gep_category = VPA
Each course in the Visual and Performing Arts category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Health and Exercise Studies Open when gep_category = HES
Each course in the Health and Exercise Studies category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Global Knowledge Open when gep_category = GLOBAL
Each course in the Global Knowledge category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve objective #1 plus at least one of objectives 2, 3, and 4:
Evaluate literatures that have emerged out of different postcolonial contexts. These will include European nations, such as Poland, formerly dominated by the Soviet Empire, or the the oppressions of Communist Romania as seen in the work of Herta Muller.This postcolonial sweep will also take in accounts provided by writers such as Salman Rushdie who confront the challenges besetting postcolonial nations such as Pakistan and India. At the same time, students will also engage writers in a transformed Europe, a Europe that that no longer commands colonial empires in the work of such writers as W.G. Sebald. The challenges of changed identities, changed ideas of nation, and self and other--for both colonial masters and colonial subjects--will be a key issue.
Critical essays.
Sample essay question: In IMAGINED COMMUNITIES, Benedict Anderson argues that the rise of newspapers and novels helped individuals to be able to imagine themselves as a part of larger political communities; in short, for Anderson, they helped to bring about nationalism. For him, nationalism is a fiction, but an exceedingly powerful one: it helps to bring about a collective sense of national origins and national ends. In SHAME, Salman Rushdie takes nationalism in the postcolonial contexts as one of his chief subjects. What does SHAME suggest about nationalism? To what extent is it liberating or repressive--or both? What are its causes? Its effects? And crucially, for Rushdie, why is fiction an exemplary medium for analyzing nationalism?
Please complete at least 1 of the following student objectives.
Examine the relationships between nations decisively marked by empire and the ways in which those relations warped the collective identities on both sides of the power equation. This, for example, includes colonial masters who financially benefited from empire and those colonized by Great Britain, such as the people who now live in the territories of Pakistan and India. Students will engage the ways in which literature evaluates the complex interactions of these cultures and identities.
Critical essays.
Sample essay question: Jean Rhys's novel WIDE SARGASSO SEA explores colonial relations between England and the Carribbean through the prism of the relationship of the Jamaican Antoinette Cosway, renamed "Bertha," and her English husband, Mr. Rochester. Similarly, Salman Rushdie's MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN engages the issue of power through the narrative of Saleem Sinai's life, which is coterminous with the independence of India, its partition and its political crises. Saleem's life thus tracks the events that come to define postcolonial India. Both novels are deeply interested in the issue of colonial power. To what extent does each novel see colonial power as durable? What is it that colonial power can do? What can't it do? What forms of resistance are there? In resisting the colonial master, to what extent does the colonial subject repeat the mistakes of the past? For each writer, is freedom possible? Under what circumstances? Compare and contrast.




US Diversity Open when gep_category = USDIV
Each course in the US Diversity category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve at least 2 of the following objectives:
Please complete at least 2 of the following student objectives.








Requisites and Scheduling
a. If seats are restricted, describe the restrictions being applied.
30% of seats will be restricted to English Majors.
b. Is this restriction listed in the course catalog description for the course?
List all course pre-requisites, co-requisites, and restrictive statements (ex: Jr standing; Chemistry majors only). If none, state none.
Sophmore standing
List any discipline specific background or skills that a student is expected to have prior to taking this course. If none, state none. (ex: ability to analyze historical text; prepare a lesson plan)
Additional Information
Complete the following 3 questions or attach a syllabus that includes this information. If a 400-level or dual level course, a syllabus is required.
Title and author of any required text or publications.
See syllabus.
Major topics to be covered and required readings including laboratory and studio topics.
See syllabus.
List any required field trips, out of class activities, and/or guest speakers.
No new resources required.

Students will:

1. Interpret a variety of genres in literature from critical perspectives that illuminate the transformations it has undergone in the twentieth century/contemporary period.

2. Analyze the relationship between form, content, and meaning in contemporary literature.

3. Track the relationship between key cultural moments and literature.

3. Conduct critical research that casts light on the literary/cultural dimensions of contemporary literature.

4. Create well-constructed arguments.

5. Demonstrate their proficiency as critical writers in terms of critical development and stylistic clarity.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

1. Identify major movements in literature from the twentieth century and after;

2. Identify key historical and cultural moments that this literature is responding to in this period;

3. Identify important formal innovations in contemporary literature in this period;

4. Critically evaluate primary sources (literary texts) and secondary sources (essays and book chapters);

5. Develop critical thinking skills and critical writing skills.

Evaluation MethodWeighting/Points for EachDetails
Essay40%Thesis-driven critical essays with emphasis placed upon development of the argument with appropriate support.Two critical essays, each counting for 20%.
Multiple exams40%Exams consist of a midterm examination in class and a final examination in class. Both will emphasize critical analysis and critical writing.
Quizzes10%Daily quizzes on assigned reading with an emphasis on knowledge of textual content.
Participation10%Participation in class is regarded as key. The various forms of participation and the ways in which participation is evaluated are spelled out in the syllabus.
TopicTime Devoted to Each TopicActivity
See attached syllabus

Key: 2313