What I'm Teaching This Fall
The course is English 269: American Literature from 1865 to the Present. Read along, or come sit in, if you're in western Mass on a Tuesday or Thursday.
- •A little Whitman and Dickinson.To get started. What and who is literature for?
- •Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885).The great American novel. Dialect. Race. Humor.
- •Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905).Great novel, great to teach.
- •Stories by Charles Chestnutt, Sui Sin Far, Zitkala-Sa, and Mary Antin.American readers love difference.
- •Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons (1914).Different kind of difference.
- •Stories by Ernest Hemingway ("The Big Two-Hearted River") and F. Scott Fitzgerald ("The Diamond as Big as the Ritz").White people problems!
- •T. S. Eliot's "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915) and a bunch of poems by Langston Hughes (1921-1927).What and who is modernist poetry for?
- •Nella Larsen, Passing (1929) and William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (1931).Two short novels about how much the world was changing, and how painful the change was.
- •Irwin Shaw, "Select Clientele" (1940), Karl Shapiro, "Jew" (1943), and Kadya Molodowsky, "God of Mercy" (1945).Americans writing about the Holocaust, as it happened.
- •A few Flannery O'Connor stories.Because how could I not?
- •Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955).Road novel, dirty book, everything.
- •Philip Roth, Portnoy's Complaint (1969).The sexual revolution meets the paperback revolution.
- •Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987).... and the rise of literary prizes.
- •Tony Kushner, Angels in America (1990-1993).Because it covers so goddamn much ground.
- •Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (2006).First time teaching it. Chris Ware was too depressing for my students, I think.