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Contemporary American Literature



This reading schedule (as well as the section titles) is meant to be suggestive and playful only. In the event we find that we need to spend more time on a text/section than originally allocated -- or allow more time for oral reports -- we can adjust our syllabus accordingly. You should also know that one of the signs of a good class discussion is that we will not have time to address all the reading that has been assigned for a certain day. Formally, the class will proceed through discussion, group workshops, and occasional lecturing. Commonly, I will announce at the end of each class the assignment for the next session.

Again, please explore CAL PAL regularly for useful links to contemporary American literature sites, as you prepare for class and research your interests. Many of these sites contain numerous other links. You might also find the (rather skeletal) Theory PAL useful on occasion. — As you find additional sites we should all know about, please let us know!

Take a plunge when you sign up for your oral reports/seminar facilitation, and please clarify the specific focus of your presentation with me in advance (such as, for example, "Neuroscience & Fiction" or "Narrative as Trauma Management After Vietnam"). I have left them purposefully open at this point. I will then also direct you (after you have done your own search) to additional specific sources, if necessary.


Week 1-2

Setting the Stage - What is contemporary/postmodern American literature?
How many are there?

Week 2–5

Divided Loyalties in the Postwar Global Village: The Red Scare II and McCarthyism

Fiction Rocks: Punk Rock, Time, and the (Future) Form of Narrative

Vietnam - a Nation and Nation Building

                 *** Notebook 1 due at end of week 4 ***

Week 6–10

Minority Reports Becoming Major Voices (selections)

American Literature/Global Literature, or, of Storms and Tigers in the Sundarbans

Week 11-13

Utah on the Map: Chicks, Crotch Rockets, and Performance Art

Week 13–15

Arboreal Protagonists, or, The Terrain of Trees

Week 15–16

Final Essay and Final Exam Review

Please consult the Editing Checklist for essential pointers regarding your essay.

*** Paper Due Date: Monday, 2 December 2019,  11:30, in class and CANVAS  ***

Additional Information

  • For an Editing Checklist, student sample papers, and helpful links visit the Toolbox webpal.

Concluding Note


The only dumb question is the one you don't ask. My door is always open, and if it is not open, please knock; I will answer if I am there. Please don't hesitate to stop by.

Last updated, 5 December 2019

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mwutz@weber.eduPhone  801-626-7011
Skype  michaelwutz007

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Weber – The Contemporary West
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Michael Wutz, Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor
Editor, Weber - The Contemporary West
Department of English, 1404 University Circle
Weber State University
Ogden, UT 84404-1404 USA