English 645: Studies in the Novel

Postmodern Fiction and Transnational Politics

Prof. Joseph Conte

Fall 2008

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Jan 15:       Postmodern fiction and transnational politics.

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

DeLillo, “In the Ruins of the Future:  Reflections on Terror and Loss in the Shadow of September.”  UB Learns           

Jan 29:       The spirit of terrorism:  DeLillo’s Falling Man.

Jean Baudrillard, “The Spirit of Terrorism.”  UB Learns

Tom Junod, “The Falling Man.”  UB Learns

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

                  Charles McGrath, “An Interview with John Updike.”  UB Learns

Feb 12:      Collective post-traumatic stress disorder:  Paul West’s The Immensity of the Here and Now.

Slavoj Žižek, “Welcome to the Desert of the Real!”  UB Learns

Feb 19:      Ming yi: brilliance injured:  West’s The Immensity of the Here and Now.

Jay McInerney, “The Uses of Invention.”  UB Learns

Feb 26:      The accidental tourist:  Michel Houellebecq’s Platform

                  Jameson, Fredric.  “The Dialectics of Disaster.”  UB Learns

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

                  Pamuk, “My Father’s Suitcase.”  Nobel Prize Speech.  UB Learns

Mar 11:     Spring Recess

Mar 18:     To cover or not to cover:  Pamuk’s Snow

Pamuk, “Freedom to Write.”  From Other Colors UB Learns

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

                  Paul West, The Very Rich Hours of Count von Stauffenberg.

                  Hugo von Hoffmansthal, The Lord Chandos Letter and Other Writings.

Apr 1:       Alternative history, or, the Other side of the tapestry.  Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day.

Joseph Conte, “Alternative Current of History Powers Latest from Pynchon.”  UB Learns

Apr 8:       Bol’shaia Igra, or, the Great Game.  Pynchon’s Against the Day.

                    Bernard Duyfhuizen, “‘The Exact Degree of Fictitiousness’:  Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day.”  UB Learns

Apr 15:     International anarchist conspiracy communiqué.  Pynchon’s Against the Day

                   Christopher Sorrentino, “Post-Modern Pynchon.”  UB Learns

 Apr 22:     The weather underground.  Dana Spiotta’s Eat the Document

Joseph Conte, “Domestic Terrorism Goes Underground.”  UB Learns


Required Texts:


Coetzee, J. M.  Elizabeth Costello.  New York:  Penguin, 2003.


DeLillo, Don.  Falling Man.  New York:  Scribner, 2007.


Houellebecq, Michel.  Platform.  New York:  Vintage, 2002.


Pamuk, Orhan.  Snow.  New York:  Vintage, 2004.


Pynchon, Thomas.  Against the Day. New York:  Penguin, 2006.


Updike, John.  Terrorist.  New York:  Ballantine, 2006.


Spiotta, Dana.  Eat the Document.  New York:  Scribner, 2006.


West, Paul.  The Immensity of the Here and Now: A Novel of 9.11.  Rutherford, NJ:  Voyant Publishing, 2003.

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

Course Requirements:

For all students registered intensively, a 20-minute oral presentation on an issue related to course materials, accompanied by a one-page single-spaced précis and bibliography of additional sources; a twenty-page research paper due no later than Tuesday, April 29.  For M.A. students registered extensively, a 20-minute oral presentation or short position paper is required for a letter grade.

Reserve List:

Baudrillard, Jean.  The Spirit of Terrorism and Other Essays.  Trans. Chris Turner.  London and New York:  Verso, 2002.

Conte, Joseph.  “Alternative Current of History Powers Latest from Pynchon.”  Buffalo News 3 December 2006:  G5.

---.  “Domestic Terrorism Goes Underground.”  Buffalo News 4 June 2006:  G5.

DeLillo, Don.  “In the Ruins of the Future:  Reflections on Terror and Loss in the Shadow of September.” Harper’s December 2001:  33-40.

Duyfhuizen, Bernard. “The Exact Degree of Fictitiousness”:  Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day Postmodern Culture 17:2 (January 2007).

Hoffmansthal, Hugo von.  The Lord Chandos Letter and Other Writings.  Trans. Joel Rotenberg.  New York:  NY Review Books, 2005.

Jameson, Fredric.  “The Dialectics of Disaster.”  South Atlantic Quarterly 101 (2002):  297-304.

Junod, Tom.  “The Falling Man.”  Esquire 1 Sept. 2003.  24 Apr. 2007.   <http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ0903-SEP_FALLINGMAN>.

McGrath, Charles.  “An Interview with John Updike.”  New York Times 31 May 2006.  <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/31/books/31updi.html>.

McInerney, Jay.  “The Uses of Invention.”  Guardian Unlimited. 17 September 2005.  <http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1570906,00.html>.

Pamuk, Orhan.  Other Colors: Essays and a Story.  Trans. Maureen Freely.  New York:  Knopf, 2007.

Sorrentino, Christopher.  “Post-Modern Pynchon.”  Los Angeles Times 19 November 2006.

West, Paul.  The Very Rich Hours of Count von Stauffenberg.  New York:  Harper & Row, 1980.  PS3573 .E8247 V4 1980

Žižek, Slavoj.  “Welcome to the Desert of the Real!”  South Atlantic Quarterly 101 (2002):  385-89.

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Last revised on Tuesday, January 15, 2008.

Copyright © 2008  Joseph M. Conte.  All Rights Reserved.