12 February 2007

Seminar in Contemporary American Fiction

Hi, All--

Quick update on the grad seminar. Encouraged by your support, I decided to fill the term with contemporary "experimental" texts (with a couple of early classes devoted to discussions of texts/traditions leading to present).

Here's our reading list:

Jeffrey DeShell, Peter
Shelley Jackson, Melancholy of Anatomy
David Markson, This is Not a Novel
Carole Maso, The Art Lover
Lance Olsen, Girl Imagined by Chance
Susan Steinberg, Hydroplane
Steve Tomasula, VAS: An Opera in Flatland
David Foster Wallace, Oblivion
Lidia Yuknavitch, Real to Reel

So far we've talked through Maso, DFW, and Markson. Jackson this week. We've dealt with some typical complaints (these texts are too difficult, elitist, etc.) and gotten into some fruitful discussions of both text and context (and where context is concerned, I'm lucky that a bunch of these students have already had some theory). Probably one of the luckier things for the class: the group, as a whole, seems to feel safe enough to not only admit what they don't understand but also speculate about the books in some pretty funky ways. Lots of playful consideration of the "links" in Markson, for example.

I only regret not including a hypertext novel, like Joyce's Afternoon.

I'm kind of tempted, now--since we're having such a good term--to offer a few, optional evening film screenings to complement the readings. I, unfortunately, only have a sense of a few mainstream films, like Adaptation, that might work. I'd appreciate any other suggestions.