In this second lecture on The Known World, Professor Hungerford addresses Edward P. Jones's ambitious and ambivalent relation to literacy. Jones shows us the power of narrative to bring together the fragmentation of the world, but is at the same time deeply aware of the fragility of text, all of the ways it can be destroyed, misinterpreted, abused, or lost. The son of an illiterate mother, Jones--who, it seems, composed and memorized large portions of The Known World before setting anything down in print--models a form of literary self-consciousness infused with the moral dilemmas of slavery and freedom that is unique among contemporary novels.
In this course, Professor Amy Hungerford gives 27 video lectures on "The American Novel Since 1945". Students will study a wide range of works from 1945 to the present. The course traces the formal and thematic developments of the novel in this period, focusing on the relationship between writers and readers, the conditions of publishing, innovations in the novel's form, fiction's engagement with history, and the changing place of literature in American culture. The reading list includes works by Richard Wright, Flannery O'Connor, Vladimir Nabokov, Jack Kerouac, J. D. Salinger, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth and Edward P. Jones. The course concludes with a contemporary novel chosen by the students in the class.