Course Description

This course will attempt to trace the development of the American novel during the first half of what has been called "the American century." The twentieth century was largely marked by rampant urbanization, technologization, and the rise of "new" media such as film that seemed to demonstrate an increasing focus in American culture on performativity, specularity, and consumption. Over the course of the semester, we'll trace changes in conventional narrative genres (such as the novel of manners) and explore the often-contested definitions of the period's novelistic styles (including naturalism and modernism). We'll pay particular attention to the ways that writing by and about women and African-Americans dramatically affects our understanding of pre-World War II America.