ENGLISH 362 - The American Novel
Fall 2021, Section 001 - The American Ghetto Novel
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is   Hybrid (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/30/21 - 12/10/21 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


“One thing about the ghetto, you don’t have to hurry / It’ll be there tomorrow, so, brother, don’t you worry!” The haunting lyrics of Rick James’s classic funk song “Ghetto Life” capture the ambivalence that many of us feel toward a certain kind of urban space. Why do so many stories in American popular culture, from West Side Story to The Wire, seem to revolve around life in ghetto communities? What draws us to tales about the exploits of the so-called underclass in such places? Do we, as the rapper Nas says, “love to hear the stories [about] how the thugs live in worry” out of voyeurism, pity, contempt, hope for social justice, or perhaps some combination of all these things?

In this course we will confront America’s fixation with slum life by reading ghetto novels written after World War II, when “poverty in the midst of plenty” suddenly became a national scandal. Assigned texts will likely include James Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain, Hubert Selby, Jr.’s Last Exit to Brooklyn, Joyce Carol Oates’s them, Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place, Sandra Cisneros’s House on Mango Street, Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle, and Scott McClanahan’s Crapalachia. Students should be aware that these novels sometimes describe poverty’s unpleasantries, particularly violence, in graphic detail



ENGLISH 362 - The American Novel
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
8/30/21 - 12/10/21

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