Brave New World
This course is a survey of American “post-apocalyptic fiction” with a special interest in the ways in which “the apocalypse,” as a literary theme, enables writers to interrogate, deconstruct, and re-present their historical realities. We will consider the ways in which different writers negotiate the relationship between destruction and creation inherent in the process of imagining the world’s end, and what their visions for a post-apocalyptic America reveal about their historical realities. To a certain extent, our intellectual inquiries in this class will focus on the following questions: How does prose fiction register the anxieties of shifting technological, social, and political conditions? What do the disjunctions, discontinuities, and fragmentations that exist in these novels reveal about the ideological production, articulation, and repression of certain individual and collective identities? What alternative genealogies, histories, or critical interventions emerge when we focus on the uncertainties—the “gaps in narrative” that cannot be filled—that exist alongside the totality and finality of the world’s end?
This class fulfills the University of Washington’s “W” requirement, which means that you may apply the course towards the additional 7-10 writing credits required by the university. Writing is a critical component of this class, and you will be expected to complete 10-15 pages of graded, out-of-class writing, in the form of two major papers. You will have an opportunity to submit rough drafts, meet with me to discuss your essay, and complete substantive revisions prior to turning in each of the two major papers.
• Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Norton Critical ed., ISBN 9780393951370
• George Schuyler, Black No More, Dover, ISBN 978-0486480404
• Ray Bradburry, Fahrenheit 451, Ballantine, ISBN 978-8445074879
• Albert Brooks, 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America, St. Martin’s, ISBN 0312591292
Additional secondary and critical materials are available electronically through Canvas.