A Cultural History of American Literature VI

Postmodernism, New Ethnic Literatures, Recent Developments:
U.S. Literature from The Second World Warto the Age of Hegemony

(Prof. Dr. F. Kelleter)

Please note that this is only the default version of the syllabus. Please download the ACTUAL SYLLABUS for the summer term 2010, to find out about dates and modified reading assignments.
Please bring this syllabus to the first session!

You may also download a set of study questions (PDF file) for this lecture course.

for HANDOUTS click on the individual sessions

Session 1

Ages of Anxiety: U.S. Culture During and After the Cold War

Suggested: Alfred Hornung, "Postmoderne bis zur Gegenwart," Amerikanische Literaturgeschichte, second edition, ed. Hubert Zapf (Stuttgart: Metzler, 2004), 306-386; from Richard Ruland, Malcolm Bradbury, From Puritanism to Postmodernism (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1991), chapters 11, 26, 28
Further Suggestions: from the sixth edition of The Enduring Vision, ed. Paul Boyer et al. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008): Chapter 27 "America at Midcentury, 1952-1960" (826-857), Chapter 29 "A Time of Upheaval, 1968-1974" (888-915).

Session 2

Repression and History: Modernism with a Difference in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (1949)

Reading: Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire, or: Miller, Death of a Salesman.

Session 3

In the Post-Industrial Bathroom: J.D. Salinger and John Updike

Reading: from Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye: chapters 1-4, 6-9, 12, 16, 18, 21-23, 25, 26, Updike, "Separating."
Suggested: Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye in its entirety.

Session 4

After Modernism: Life Studies and Confessional Politics in the Poetry of Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, and Adrienne Rich

Reading: Lowell, "Inauguration Day: January 1953", "Memories of West Street and Lepke," "Skunk Hour"; Plath, "Lady Lazarus"; Rich, "Snapshots of a Daughter in Law."
Suggested: Lowell, "Sailing Home from Rapallo", "Man and Wife", "'To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage'", "For the Union Dead"; Plath, "Daddy"; Anne Sexton, "Sylvia's Death"; Rich, "Diving into the Wreck."

Session 5

From Beat to Pop (Ginsberg, Mailer, Warhol)

Reading: Allen Ginsberg, "A Supermarket in California," "Howl," "Footnote to 'Howl.'"
Suggested:from Norman Mailer, "The White Negro": sections I, II, V, VI; from Andy Warhol, THE Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A to B and Back Again): chapter 6 "Work" (excerpts), chapter 15 "Underwear Power."

Session 6

African American Literature from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man (1952) to Amiri Baraka's Slave Ship (1967/69)

Reading: from Ellison, Invisible Man: "Prologue," "Chapter I. [Battle Royal]"; Gwendolyn Brooks, "We Real Cool"; Baraka, Slave Ship.
Suggested:Langston Hughes, "Harlem"; Ellison, Invisible Man in its entirety, especially "Epilogue".

Session 7

Jewish American Literature: Saul Bellow, Cynthia Ozick, Philip Roth

Reading: Bellow, "Looking for Mr. Green"; Ozick, "The Shawl"; from Roth, Portnoy's Complaint: chapters "The Most Unforgettable Character I've Met," "Whacking Off," "The Jewish Blues" (excerpt), "In Exile," and "Punchline."
Suggested: Roth, Portnoy's Complaint in its entirety.

Session 8

From Pop to Postmodernism: American Poetry (especially from New York) in an Age of Casual Intermediality

Reading: John Cage, "25 Mesostics Re and Not Re Mark Tobey"; Robert Creeley, "I Know A Man"; Frank O'Hara, "Personism: A Manifesto", "Having a Coke With You", "A Step Away from Them," "The Day Lady Died"; Kenneth Koch, "Permanently", "The Circus" (1975 version); from Andy Warhol, THE Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A to B and Back Again): chapter 10 "Atmosphere" (excerpts).
Suggested: John Ashbery, "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror"; Kenneth Koch, "Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams" from Andy Warhol, THE Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A to B and Back Again): chapter 10 "Atmosphere" (excerpts).

Session 9

Postmodernist Fiction: Paranoia and the Making of Sense/Signs in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 (1965)

Reading: Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49.
Suggested: Pynchon, "Entropy."

Session 10

Is There A Postmodern Stage? American Drama from Edward Albee and Megan Terry to Adrienne Kennedy and David Mamet, with a Close Look at Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross (1983/84)

Reading: Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross.
Suggested: Adrienne Kennedy, A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White or Sam Shepard, True West.

Session 11

Beyond Postmodernism: Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987)

Reading: Morrison, Beloved, chapter One.
Suggested: Morrison, Beloved, chapters Two and Three.

Session 12

Native American Literature as a "New" Ethnic Literature: N. Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich, Gerald Vizenor

Reading: from Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain (excerpts in Norton); from Erdrich, Tracks: "Fleur"; Vizenor, "Almost Browne."

Session 13

Chicano/a Literature: Gloria Anzaldùa, Sandra Cisneros, Richard Rodriguez

Reading: Anzaldùa, "La conciencia de la Mestiza/Towards a New Consciousness," "How to Tame a Wild Tongue," "El sonavabitche"; Cisneros, "My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn," "Barbie-Q," "Mericans"; Rodriguez, from Hunger of Memory (excerpts).

Session 14

Recent Developments in Poetry, Drama, and Fiction

Reading: Selected Poetry by Susan Howe; excerpts from Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho or Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves; Suzan Lori-Parks' The America Play or Tony Kushner's Angels
in America

Most texts are included in the Norton Anthology of American Literature (Seventh Edition, Volume E).
Texts not included in Norton7 can be bought as a course reader at the copy-store "Klartext."
Of the longer texts, the recommended editions for purchase are: the Harper Perennial edition of The Crying of Lot 49 (ISBN-13: 978-0061849923) and the Vintage Classics edition of Beloved (ISBN-13: 978-0099511656).
If you cannot attend this lecture course because of a scheduling conflict with other mandatory courses, please see us in advance and we will organize screenings of the lecture course for you, and provide you with material for independent study. Please understand that we can provide this service only if you contact us before the first week of classes!
For all organizational matters, please contact Birte Otten.