EL 449W | Postmodern Lit and Culture

(Fall 2017)

Postmodern Literature and Culture is a writing intensive (and reading intensive) course that looks at postmodernism as a literary and cultural phenomenon, addressing trends in fiction after World War II and tracking the cultural dilemmas to which the writers we call postmodern are responding. We will investigate literary postmodernism as a historically grounded set of literary, aesthetic, and philosophical tendencies, arising in response to both aesthetic Modernism and the events of the mid-20th century. Along the way you  will become familiar with (and read) some of the major theorists of postmodernism, and you will develop critical vocabulary helpful for understanding and commenting on those theorists, the postmodern culture they theorize, and the postmodern texts we read together. 

Sunstantial Writing/Composing Assignments to Anticipate

---- The Schedule ----

All major assignments are included, but minor assignments and readings may be added. Please note that the schedule may shift in transit due to the contingencies of our semester, the the onset of entropy, or unprecedented epistemic disruptions. Don’t panic.    

Star Wars as Pastiche: here.

Week 1 (Sep. 6 and 8)

Note that it wouldn't hurt to go ahead and get signed up for the wiki.

Note that you're going to have to commit to an author for research at the end of next week. Spend some time learning about these folks.

Due Friday: Film Screening Survey

Blogging: One Post This Week. The "week" for blogging will end the following Monday at class time. <<No posts for Week 1. Let's ramp up a little more slowly!

  • Day 1: No Class
  • Day 2: Course Introduction
  • Day 3: from Postmodern Debates: Introduction (Simon Malpas); “Postmodernism and Consumer Society” (Fredric Jameson); “Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?” (Jean Francois Lyotard) + from Smith: "Is the Devil from Paris? Postmodernism and the Church" (Smith)
  • Hey!: Be looking into authors and deciding which one you'd like to research.

Week 2 (Sep. 11, 13, and 15)

Note: Remember that you need to either PRINT online texts or have some reasonable way (Kindle? iPad? Laptop?) to view your electronic copy in class. Tiny, tiny phone screens don't really count in this context.

Due Monday: Self intro on course wiki before class.

Due Friday: Sign up for research subject (on wiki) before Friday's class. (Sign up no earlier than Thursday at 7:00 am.)

Blogging: 2 posts this week.

  • Day 1: “Tlon: Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” “The Library of Babel,” “On Exactitude in Science,” “Borges and I” (Jorge Luis Borges); “Anecdote of the Jar,” “Metaphors of a Magnifico” (Wallace Stevens)
  • Due: Self Intro on Wiki
  • Day 2: John Barth: “Lost in the Funhouse,” “Frame Story"
  • Day 3: John Barth: “The Literature of Replenishment”
  • Due: Claim Author on Wiki
  • Due: Film Screening Survey
  • Hey!: Get to the library and start doing the basic groundwork on your author research, so that you can complete NEXT Friday's assignment.

Week 3 (Sep. 18, 20, and 22)

Due Friday @5:00: Proof and Justification of *3* ILL Requests (Inquiry Project)

Due Friday @5:00: Critical Response #1 (Borges, Barth, or Slaughterhouse)

Blogging: 1 post required this week.

  • Day 1: Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut) (Chapters 1-5)
  • Planned (and Cancelled) Day 2: Slaughterhouse Five (Chapters 6-10)
  • Actual Day 2: Community Building Day. Please read and blog about the Sidhu article originally planned for Wednesday. The Crouch we'll read later in the semester.
  • Planned (and Cancelled) Day 3: Andy Crouch, from Culture Making +  Hardeep Singh Sidhu: “history is a genre and genre has a history” (noting the tension Sidhu places between pastiche and participation)
  • Actual Day 3: Slaughterhouse Five (Chapters 6-10)
  • Due: Proof of ILL/SUMMITs + Critical Response #1
Notes on the way William F. Gibson has used the word "evert" in his fiction: here.

Week 4 (Sep. 25, 27, and 29)

Due: Nothing is officially due this week, beyond reading, but you’re digging yourself a deep, dark hole if you’re not actively moving forward your research agenda for the Inquiry Project.

Blogging: 2 posts

  • Day 1: from Postmodern Debates: "The Gulf War: Is It Really Happening?" (Jean Baudrillard) + (Online) “Liar, Liar Pants on Fire” (Errol Morris)
  • Day 2: Postmodern Debates: "Deconstruction and Actuality" (Jacques Derrida) + from Smith: "Nothing Outside the Text? Derrida, Deconstruction, and Scripture" (Smith)
  • Day 3: Catch Up / "The Gernsback Continuum" (William F. Gibson) / Andy Crouch, from Culture Making, pp 17-98 (This will go faster than other theory we've read so far.)

Week 5 (Oct. 2, 4, and 6)

Due Friday @5:00: Substantial Research Update Using Screencast-o-Matic (Inquiry Project)

Blogging: 1 post

Week 6 (Oct. 9, 11, and 13)

Due Friday @5:00: Critical Response #2 (Lot 49 or Dellilo)

Blogging: 1 post

  • Day 1: "Midnight in Dostoevsky" (Don Dellilo)
  • Day 2: "The Airborne Toxic Event" (from White Noise) (Don Dellilo)
  • Day 3: fro  Postmodern Debates: "Ideology, Discourse and the Problems of 'Post-Marxism'" (Terry Eagleton); "We Anti-Representationalists" (Richard Rorty); Due: Critical Response #2
Midterm Review Slides: Here

And here's a link to the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms and other Oxford reference works, which may be helpful. [CHECK LINK]

Week 7 (Oct. 16, 18, and 20)

Friday, Class Time: Midterm, Essay Sections Due by 5:00

Blogging: 2 posts for this week (Week 7) and next week (Week 8) together.

  • Day 1: Catch Up / George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” + from Smith: "Where Have All the Metanarratives Gone? Lyotard, Postmodernism, and the Christian Story" (Smith)
  • MONDAY or TUESDAY Evening:
    Film Screening: Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color
  • Day 2: Film Discussion
  • Day 3: MIDTERM

Week 8 (Oct. 23 and 25)

Due MONDAY@5:00: Inquiry Project. Extensions negotiable for those with good reasons.

Blogging: 2 posts for last week (Week 7) and this week (Week 8) together.

  • Day 1: from Smith: "Power/Knowledge/Discipline: Foucault and the Possibilities of a Postmodern Church" (Smith) + Due: Inquiry Project
  • Day 2: Plantinga: "Postmodernism and Pluralism," pp 422-37 (Handout)
  • Day 3: No Class: Fall Break

Week 9 (Nov. 1 and 3)

Due Friday @5:00: Initial Claim for Critical Analysis (Critical Analysis)

Blogging: 2 posts

  • Day 1: No Class: Fall Break
  • Day 2: Parks Essays (at start of America Play book) + The America Play (JUST that play; NOT the whole set of plays in the book!) (Suzan-Lori Parks)
  • Day 3: Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (Suzan-Lori Parks); Due: Initial Claim (Critical Analysis)

Week 10 (Nov. 6, 8, and 10)

Are you Working on Your Critical Analysis? If Not, Why Not? Work on Your Analysis!

Blogging: 2 posts

  • Day 1: Loon Lake (E. L. Doctorow), To Page 93 ("...hand lifted too late as the signal for the engagement to begin")
  • Day 2: Loon Lake, To Page 174 ("The only thing I haven't seen her do is sew the American flag!")
  • Day 3: Loon Lake, To End

Week 11 (Nov. 13, 15, and 17)

Due Monday, Class Time: Middle Paragraph (Critical Analysis) + "Corpus" Account (Critical Analysis)

Due Friday @5:00: Middle Paragraph Critique + Middle Paragraph Critiqued

Blogging: 5 FOUR posts for this week (Week 11) , next week (Week 12), and the following week (Week 13), together.

  • Day 1: "Postmodernism and Feminisms" (Linda Hutcheon); "Gender Trouble: From Parody to Politics" (Judith Butler)
  • Due: Middle Paragraph and "Corpus" Account
  • Day 2: from Postmodern Debates: "Postmodern Blackness" (bell hooks)  + "Locations of Culture: The Postcolonial and the PoMo" (Homi K. Bhabha)
  • Day 3: "Subjectivity, Ethics, Politics: Learning to Live Without the Subject" (Jane Flax)
  • Due: Middle Paragraph Critique/Critiqued

Week 12 (Nov. 20)

Critical Analysis! Work on It! Time is Flying!

Best Plan: Turn The Critical Analysis in BEFORE Break

A Still Just Fine Plan: Turn it in Monday AFTER Break, When It's Due

Blogging: 5 FOUR posts for last week (Week 11) , this week (Week 12), and next week (Week 13), together.

  • Day 1: Faculty Panel on “PoMo, Epistemic Humility, and Intellectual Courage” (Prep reading from Plantinga and/or Smith, TBA.)
  • Day 2: No Class: Thanksgiving Break
  • Day 3: No Class: Thanksgiving Break

Week 13 (Nov. 27 and 29; Dec. 1)

Due Monday Wednesday @5:00: Critical Analysis

Due Friday @5:00: Any (Optional) Revised Critical Responses (See Revision Guidelines) (Extended: I'll take these until NEXT WEDNESDAY)

Blogging: 5 FOUR posts for two weeks ago (Week 11) , last week (Week 12), and this week (Week 13), together.

  • Day 1: Pale Fire (Vladimir Nabokov) (Introduction + 130 Lines of Poem + Associated Commentary)
  • Due: Critical Analysis
  • Day 2: Pale Fire (Finish Canto 2 + Associated Commentary)
  • Day 3: Pale Fire (The Rest of It)
  • Due: Any (Optional) Revised Critical Responses (ext. to 12/6)

Week 14 (Dec. 4, 6, and 8)

Due Monday @5:00: Habeas Corpus (Critical Analysis Followup)

Due Friday @5:00: Reflective Response (Inc. Mini-Reading of Parks, Loon Lake, Pale Fire, or NY Trilogy)

Blogging: 1 post, and then you're finished.

  • Day 1: City of Glass (from The New York Trilogy) (Paul Auster)
  • Day 2: Ghosts (from The New York Trilogy) [Habeas Corpus moved to today. See Critical Analysis packet.]
  • Day 3: The Locked Room (from The New York Trilogy); Due: Reflective Response (See Critical Response Packet.) I've set a place to post these to Blackboard, but it would be great to have them on your page at the wiki, too, if you'd like. Sometimes these come out feeling too personal to share, so I won't require wiki posting, but if you don't mind posting there, please do. (And listen, I'll take these, with no penalty, up until Wednesday of finals week, but DO THEM. They're a great chance to do a self check about what you've learned and also a great chance to counterbalance any low quiz scores you've gotten this semester.)

Week 15 (Dec. 11 + Final)

Due Monday @ Class: Your Take: Five Big Ideas of PoMo and Five Big Aesthetic Traits

  • Day 1: Let's just do the write up of five big ideas from PoMo and five big aesthetic traits. What I'm looking for here is the ideas plus some clear explanation, and then the traits plus some clear explanation. A few sentences for each should work. Absolutely informal writing; write fast and loose (and funny, if you can). Hypertexts, TBA. Probably Michael Joyce's afternoon, a story
  • Final/Exam 2: Tuesday, December 12, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm (So it goes.)

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