In this class we will read stories and novels about the 20th and early 21st century American family in all its permutations. We will look back at how American writers like Raymond Carver, James Baldwin and J. D. Salinger wrote about family life in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, and then how Jeffrey Eugenides captured family in the Detroit Suburbs of the late 1970s and 80s, while Edward P. Jones's characters cobble family together in an inner city in crisis, and Deborah Eisenberg's lost souls try to keep their impromptu family of artists together in the wake of 9/11. We will look at exceptionally close families, surrogate families, and families coming apart at the seams. Students will hone their skills as college level interpreters of literature, writing a close reading essay, a creative essay, an analysis and a fourth essay of their choice.
Books will include:Franny and Zooey and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters by J.D. Salinger; The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, American Short Story Masterpieces edited by Raymond Carver and Tom Jenks, and a coursepack of selected short stories.