ENGLISH 472 - Twentieth-Century American Literature
Fall 2023, Section 001 - Race in 21st-Century American Fiction
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Undergrad and Grad
Meet Together Classes:
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Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (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.


To what extent does a focus on race offer us an encompassing view of modern America—in the novel or in history more broadly? We’ll be reading four celebrated novels (mostly American, mostly from the 21st century) that together offer a variety of perspectives, both oblique and direct, on matters of race and racism, as well as on a host of related issues. In addition, each novel is formally innovative. What’s the relationship between artistic experimentation and social critique? What’s the difference between discussion of race in a novel and in a work of history or sociology? To what extent should we expect “minority” writers to focus on their own racial heritages? We’ll try to develop interpretations of our texts and from there work out to these larger problems. Core readings: Toni Morrison, Beloved; David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas; Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being. In addition, short contextual primary and secondary materials.

This course satisfies the following CURRENT English major/minor requirement: American Literature, Identity/Difference

This course satisfies the following NEW English major/minor requirements: Foundations & Methods 300/400-level, Regions: Americas, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Time: Contemporary/Modern

Course Requirements:

The course requires 1) regular attendance and participation in class discussion, 2) a short oral report on one of the novels, and 3) 2-4 papers totaling 15 pages. The number of papers is up to you. No exams.


ENGLISH 472 - Twentieth-Century American Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
 In Person
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

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