English 645:  Postmodern Fiction
The Politics of the Unpresentable

Professor Joseph Conte

Spring 2004

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bulletJan 13:  Postmodern Fiction:  The Politics of the Unpresentable.
bulletJan 20:  Discipline and anarchy.  Kathy Acker, Empire of the Senseless.  Greg Lewis Peters, "Dominance and Subversion:  The Horizontal Sublime and Erotic Empowerment in the Works of Kathy Acker."  Ellen G. Friedman, "'Now Eat Your Mind':  An Introduction to the Works of Kathy Acker."
bulletJan 27:  Libelous representations.  Robert Coover, The Public Burning.  Tom LeClair, “Reenactment:  Robert Coover’s The Public Burning,” The Art of ExcessDaniel E. Frick, “Coover’s Secret Sharer? Richard Nixon in The Public Burning.”  Available UB Libraries, Online Resources, Literary Resource Center.
bulletFeb 3:  Cold war, hot politics.  Robert Coover, The Public Burning.  Richard Walsh, "Narrative Inscription, History, and the Reader in Robert Coover's The Public Burning."  Available UB Libraries, Online Resources, Literary Resource Center. 
bulletFeb 10:  George Will's Bad Boy.  Don DeLillo, Libra.  George Will, "Shallow Look at the Mind of an Assassin." Ruppersburg and Engles, eds. Critical Essays on Don DeLillo.  Frank Lentricchia, "Libra as Postmodern Critique."  Introducing Don DeLillo, 193-215.
bulletFeb 17:  Conspiracy or paranoia.  Don DeLillo, Libra.  Skip Willman, "Art After Dealey Plaza:  DeLillo's Libra."
bulletFeb 24:  The underclass.  Don DeLillo, Underworld.  Philip Nel, "A Small Incisive Shock: Modern Forms, Postmodern Politics."
bulletMar 2:  Waste management.  Don DeLillo, Underworld.  Mark Osteen, "'Everything is connected': Containment and Counterhistory in Underworld." American Magic and Dread, 214-60.  Peter Knight, "Everything is Connected:  Underworld's Secret History of Paranoia."
bulletMar 9:  Currency.  Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis.
bulletMar 16:  Spring Recess
bulletMar 23:  Blood Sport.  Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis.
bulletMar 30:  Securities and exchange.  William Gaddis, J R.  Susan Strehle, "J R and the Matter of Energy." Fiction in the Quantum Universe, 93-123.
bulletApr 6:  The capitalist engine.  William Gaddis, J R.  Tom LeClair, "Recursion: William Gaddis's J R." The Art of Excess, 87-105.  John Johnston, "Capitalism and Entropic Flow: J R." Information Multiplicity, 123-62.
bulletApr 13:  Law and disorder.  William Gaddis, A Frolic of His Own.  Christopher J. Knight, "A Frolic of His Own: Whose Law? Whose Justice?" Hints and Guesses, 201-39.
bulletApr 20:  Litigation and ethics.  William Gaddis, A Frolic of His Own.  Gregory Comnes, "Ethics, Epistemology, and the Narrative of Indeterminacy." Ethics of Indeterminacy, 17-45.

Required Texts:

Kathy Acker, Great Expectations. New York: Grove/Atlantic, 1982.
Robert Coover, The Public Burning.  1977; New York:  Grove/Atlantic, 1998.
Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis.  New York:  Simon  & Schuster, 2003.
Don DeLillo, Libra. 1988. New York: Penguin, 1991.
Don DeLillo, Underworld. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.
William Gaddis, J R. 1975. New York: Penguin, 1985.
William Gaddis, A Frolic of His Own. New York: Scribner, 1994.

All texts are available at Talking Leaves Bookstore, 3158 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14214, located across from the South Campus. Telephone: (716) 837-8554.

Reserve List:

Comnes, Gregory. The Ethics of Indeterminacy in the Novels of William Gaddis. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994. PS3557.A28 Z64 1994

Cowart, David.  Don DeLillo:  The Physics of Language.  Athens, GA:  University of Georgia Press, 2002.  PS3554 .E4425 Z59 2002

Dewey, Joseph, Steven G. Kellman, and Irving Malin, eds.  Underwords:  Perspectives on Don DeLillo’s Underworld.  Newark and London:  University of Delaware Press, 2002.

Friedman, Ellen G. "'Now Eat Your Mind': An Introduction to the Works of Kathy Acker." Review of Contemporary Fiction 9.3 (1989): 37-49. Available UB Libraries, Online Resources, Literary Resource Center.

Frick, Daniel E. “Coover’s Secret Sharer? Richard Nixon in The Public Burning.” Critique 37: 2 (Winter 1996):  82-91.  Available UB Libraries, Online Resources, Literary Resource Center.

Gordon, Lois G.  Robert Coover:  The Universal Fiction-Making Process.  Carbondale:  Southern Illinois University Press, 1983.  PS3553.O633 .Z67 1983

Kuehl, John Richard, and Steven Moore, eds. In Recognition of William Gaddis. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1984. PS3557.A28 Z74 1984

Knight, Christopher J. Hints and Guesses: William Gaddis's Fiction of Longing. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1997. PS3557 .A28 Z75 1997

Knight, Peter. "Everything is Connected: Underworld's Secret History of Paranoia." Modern Fiction Studies 45 (1999): 811-36. Available UB Libraries, Online Resources, Project Muse.

Johnston, John. Information Multiplicity: American Fiction in the Age of Media Saturation. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. PS374 .M43 J64 1998

LeClair, Tom. The Art of Excess: Mastery in Contemporary American Fiction. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989. PS379 .L4 1989

---.  In the Loop: Don DeLillo and the Systems Novel. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987. PS3554. E4425 Z75 1987

Lentricchia, Frank, ed.  Introducing Don DeLillo. Durham: Duke University Press, 1991. PS3554 .E4425 Z72 1991

Maltby, Paul.  Dissident Postmodernists:  Barthelme, Coover, Pynchon.  Philadelphia:  University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992.  PS374.P64 M3 1991

Nel, Philip. "A Small Incisive Shock: Modern Forms, Postmodern Politics." Modern Fiction Studies 45 (1999): 724-52. Available UB Libraries, Online Resources, Project Muse.

Osteen, Mark. American Magic and Dread: Don DeLillo's Dialogue with Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. PS3554 .E4425 Z76 2000

Peters, Greg Lewis. "Dominance and Subversion: The Horizontal Sublime and Erotic Empowerment in the Works of Kathy Acker." State of the Fantastic: Studies in the Theory and Practice of Fantastic Literature and Film. Ed. Nicholas Ruddick. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1990. 150-56. Available UB Libraries, Online Resources, Literary Resource Center.

Ruppersburg, Hugh, and Tim Engles, eds.  Critical Essays on Don DeLillo.  New York:  G. K. Hall, 2000.  PS3554 .E4425 Z6 2000.

Saltzman, Arthur M. The Novel in the Balance. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1993. PS379 .S24 1993

---. This Mad "Instead": Governing Metaphors in Contemporary American Fiction. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2000. PS379 .S25 2000

Strehle, Susan. Fiction in the Quantum Universe. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1992. PS374.P45 S77 1992

Walsh, Richard.  “Narrative Inscription, History, and the Reader in Robert Coover's The Public Burning.”  Studies in the Novel 25: 3 (Fall 1993):  332-46.  Available UB Libraries, Online Resources, Literary Resource Center.

Will, George. "Shallow Look at the Mind of an Assassin." The Washington Post. 22 Sept. 1988. A25.  Ruppersburg and Engles, eds. Critical Essays on Don DeLillo.

Willman, Skip. "Art After Dealey Plaza: DeLillo's Libra." Modern Fiction Studies 45 (1999): 621-39. Available UB Libraries, Online Resources, Project Muse.

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 Friday, April 30.  For M.A. students registered extensively, a 20-minute oral presentation or short position paper is required for a letter grade.

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Last Revised Tuesday, December 16, 2004
Copyright 2004 Joseph M. Conte. All rights reserved.