In this first lecture Professor Hungerford introduces the course's academic requirements and some of its central concerns. She uses a magazine advertisement for James Joyce's Ulysses and an essay by Vladimir Nabokov (author of Lolita, a novel on the syllabus) to establish opposing points of view about what is required to be a competent reader of literature. The contrast between popular emotional appeal and detached artistic judgment frames literary debates from the Modernist, and through the post-45 period. In the second half of lecture, Hungerford shows how the controversies surrounding the publication of Richard Wright's Black Boy highlight the questions of truth, memory, and autobiography that will continue to resurface throughout the course.
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.