At the very beginning of the course, Professor Hungerford offered students the opportunity to pitch a novel of their choice to fill the final spot on the syllabus. Today six students rise to that challenge, presenting their arguments for why each book would complete the intellectual trajectory established thus far. While the Teaching Assistants tally the results of the class vote, Professor Hungerford provides some final thoughts about the theme of loss in Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. The effacement of the body in this novel, and the beauty of absence and hunger, result in what Hungerford terms an "anorexic aesthetic" that raises problems for feminist interpretation.
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.