Modernism and Fiction


This course will pick up the history of prose fiction roughly at the point at which the novel starts to become a self-conscious and problematic literary form in Flaubert, James, and Conrad. From these writers, we will proceed to the more radical and complex formal experiments of the great “high modernists” of fiction—Mann, Joyce, Proust, and Kafka. In the last part of the course, we will consider the question of what is now called “postmodernism,” both in fiction that continues the experimental tradition of modernism while breaking with some of its assumptions (Beckett and Pynchon) and in important recent theorizing about problems of narrative and representation. Throughout, we will pay close attention to the social and political meanings of both experimental narrative techniques and theories of fiction. Previous completion of at least one year of literature or philosophy is required.