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(ENGL 291) In 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.

This course was recorded in Spring 2008.

The American Novel Since 1945 - Video Yale University

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(ENGL 291) In 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.

This course was recorded in Spring 2008.

    • video
    01 - Introductions

    01 - Introductions

    In this first lecture Professor Hungerford introduces the course's academic requirements and some of its central concerns. She uses a magazine advertisement for James Joyce's Ulysses and an essay by Vladimir Nabokov (author of Lolita, a novel on the syllabus) to establish opposing points of view about what is required to be a competent reader of literature. The contrast between popular emotional appeal and detached artistic judgment frames literary debates from the Modernist, and through the post-45 period. In the second half of lecture, Hungerford shows how the controversies surrounding the publication of Richard Wright's Black Boy highlight the questions of truth, memory, and autobiography that will continue to resurface throughout the course.

    • 47 min.
    • video
    02 - Richard Wright, Black Boy

    02 - Richard Wright, Black Boy

    Professor Amy Hungerford continues her discussion of Richard Wright's classic American autobiography, Black Boy. Through a close analysis of key passages, she demonstrates an oscillation in the narrative between the socioeconomic deprivations and racial jeopardy confronting its characters, and the compensations to be found in sensual experience, the imagination, and in particular, the power of words. Dramatizing the editorial struggle evident in letters between Wright and Book-of-the-Month-Club-President Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Professor Hungerford shows the high stakes of Wright's uncompromising portrait of America's failed ideals at a time when those ideals are being tested during the Second World War.

    • 50 min.
    • video
    03 - Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood

    03 - Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood

    Professor Amy Hungerford's first lecture on Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood addresses questions of faith and interpretation. She uses excerpts from O'Connor's copious correspondence to introduce the critical framework of O'Connor's Catholicism, but invites us to look beyond the question of redemption. What do characters see in this text, and what are they blind to? What do we see as readers, and how does methodology shape this vision?

    • 47 min.
    • video
    04 - Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood (cont.)

    04 - Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood (cont.)

    In this second lecture on Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood, Professor Amy Hungerford continues to offer several specific contexts in which to read and understand the novel. Having used O'Connor's letters to delve into her theological commitments in the previous lecture, Professor Hungerford now explores the southern social context, particularly with respect to race and gender, and the New Critical writing program of which O'Connor was a product. Hungerford finally suggests that O'Connor's writing illuminates the important--and perhaps undertheorized--link between the institutionalization of formal unity by the New Critics, and their strong religious influences.

    • 44 min.
    • video
    05 - Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

    05 - Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

    Professor Amy Hungerford introduces the first of three lectures on Nabokov's Lolita by surveying students' reactions to the novel, highlighting the conflicting emotions readers feel, enjoying Nabokov's virtuosic style, but being repelled by the violence of his subject matter. Nabokov's childhood in tsarist Russia provides some foundation for his interest in memory, imagination, and language. Finally, Professor Hungerford shows how Nabokov, through the voice of his protagonist Humbert, in his own voice in the epilogue, and in the voice of "John Ray, Jr." in the foreword, preempts moral judgments in a novel that celebrates the power of the imagination and the seductive thrill of language.

    • 51 min.
    • video
    06 - Guest Lecture by Teaching Fellow Andrew Goldstone

    06 - Guest Lecture by Teaching Fellow Andrew Goldstone

    In this guest lecture, Teaching Fellow Andrew Goldstone provides us with some key concepts for understanding Modernism and Nabokov's relation in particular to his literary forebears T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Marcel Proust. Positing the "knight's move" as a description of Nabokov's characteristically indirect, evasive style, Goldstone argues that Nabokov's parodies of Modernist form in fact reveal his deep commitment to some of the same aesthetic principles. While the knight's move often indicates a playful attitude towards tradition, it also betrays a traumatic rupture with the past, reflecting a sense of exile that links Nabokov's art with the violence of Lolita's protagonist, Humbert.

    • 43 min.

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