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Course Information

Instructor Info:Scott Branson
Office Extension x413-559-6216
TA Info:Darrell Vincent
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
02:00 PM - 03:20 PM Emily Dickinson Hall (EDH) 2
02:00 PM - 03:20 PM Emily Dickinson Hall (EDH) 2
Description: How do we make sense of a meaningless world? How do we render meaninglessness in fiction without making it meaningful? Are we satisfied with literature that doesn't explain itself? Can we read without trying to explain? This course will examine novelists grappling with these questions as they try to find place for literature in the modern world. In a century marked by drastic technological advances in communication, transportation, and warfare-changes that also characterize our historical moment-modernist and post-modernist novelists experimented with incorporating meaninglessness into their work through innovation of the form of the novel as well as expansion of its content. We will read authors from different national traditions who try to incorporate the failure of meaning into their texts. Alongside novels, we will examine narrative theory to help us understand how literary conventions promise meaning and how the 20th-century experimental novel subverts this promise. Readings may include novels by Gide, Kafka, Mann, Beckett, Camus, O'Connor, Ellison, Duras, and Pynchon.