In this first of two lectures on the students' choice end-of-semester novel, Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated (2002), Professor Hungerford models several methods for approaching and evaluating a new work of fiction. She shows how Foer borrows and adapts themes and styles from other authors on the syllabus in service to his ambition as a writer to demonstrate the power of narrative fiction to address the great historical traumas of our time. In thus attempting to marry the nineteenth-century social novel with Postmodernist, or late Modernist, techniques, Foer participates in an emerging tradition that risks the confusion between resonant emotion and sentimental clichÃ©.
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.