English 357: Contemporary Literature

Professor Joseph Conte

Spring 2008

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Jan 15:       Introduction:  Contemporary literature and transnational politics.

Jan 17:       The political novel.

Jan 22:       In the ruins of the future:  Don DeLillo’s Falling Man.

Jan 24:       DeLillo’s Falling Man.

Jan 29:       DeLillo’s Falling Man.

Jan 31:       DeLillo’s Falling Man.

Feb 5:        Transnational theocracy and the liberal state:  John Updike’s Terrorist.

Feb 7:        Updike’s Terrorist.

Feb 12:      Updike’s Terrorist

Feb 14:      Updike’s Terrorist

Feb 19:      The accidental tourist:  Michel Houellebecq’s Platform

Feb 21:      Houellebecq’s Platform

Feb 26:      Houellebecq’s Platform.

First essay due in class, 5-7 pages.

 Feb 28:      Houellebecq’s Platform.

 Mar 4:        “Politics in a literary work”:  Orhan Pamuk’s Snow.

 Mar 6:        Pamuk’s Snow. 

 Mar 11:      Spring Recess

 Mar 13:      Spring Recess

 Mar 18:      Pamuk’s Snow. 

 Mar 20:      Pamuk’s Snow. 

 Mar 25:      Universal human rights?:  J. M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello.

 Mar 27:      Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello.

 Second essay due in class, 5-7 pages.

Apr 1:        Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello.

Apr 3:        Oil diplomacy.  Stephen Gaghan, dir.  Syriana.  In-class screening.

Apr 8:        Syriana.  In-class screening.

Apr 10:      Syriana.  Discussion. 

Apr 15:      The weather underground.  Dana Spiotta’s Eat the Document.

Apr 17:      Spiotta’s Eat the Document.

Apr 22:      Spiotta’s Eat the Document

Apr 24:      Conclusions and evaluations.

                  Research paper due in class, 8-10 pages.


Required Texts:


Coetzee, J. M.  Elizabeth Costello (2003)


DeLillo, Don.  Falling Man (2007)


Houellebecq, Michel.  Platform (2002)


Pamuk, Orhan.  Snow (2004)


Updike, John.  Terrorist (2006)


Spiotta, Dana.  Eat the Document (2006)

 All texts for the course can be found at Talking Leaves Bookstore, 3158 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214; (716) 837-8554. 


Course Requirements:

Attendance in class, reading assignments and participation in discussion for English 357 is mandatory; two intermediate length papers and a final research paper that will integrate non-fiction, cultural and literary critical sources.

Papers:   Neatly printed copies must be presented in class on the day indicated on the syllabus.  These copies should adhere to the following format:  a cover page with a title for your essay, your name, the course number and title, the date; typed, double-spaced with one-inch margins; all pages numbered; stapled.  The paper should be proofread for grammatical and typographical errors. 

Late policy:  Late assignments will be accepted only by prior arrangement with me.  Failure to seek approval before the due date will result in a penalty of one grade increment per class meeting. 

Plagiarism:  All secondary materials, either from print or online sources, must be properly attributed.  Plagiarism of a paper—either in whole or in part, especially including sources downloaded from the Internet—will result in an immediate failure for the assignment, or the course, at the instructor’s discretion.

Attendance:  Noted on a daily basis.  Absence from more than five classes during the course of the semester will result in a final grade deduction, up to and including failure for the course, at the instructor’s discretion.

Grading:  50% for the two papers; 40% for the final research paper; and 10% for attendance and participation in the class discussion list.

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Last revised on Tuesday, January 15, 2008.
Copyright 2008 Joseph M. Conte. All Rights Reserved.