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Contemporary American Romancers: Pynchon, Robbins, DeLillo, Auster

Class at Faculty of Arts |


An examination of the practitioners of the American romance tradition who built upon the distinction, made by

Emerson (and repeated by Nathaniel Hawthorne), between "romances" and "fictions" (novels). Examined will be

Henry James's The Europeans, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Scott Fitzgerald's

The Great Gatsby, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, and Tom Robbins's

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. 1) Emerson on romance as a genre in "Europe and European Books" (Dial, Volume iii [1842]); and Hawthorne,

Prefaces from The Scarlet Letter (1850), The House of the Seven Gables (1851), and The Blithedale Romance

(1852) 2) Emerson, excerpts from "Self-Reliance" (1841)" and "Circles" (1841) 3) Emerson, excerpts from "Experience" (1844), "Fate" (1860), and "Illusions" (1860) 4) Henry James, excerpts from The Europeans (1878) 5) Mark Twain, excerpts from Huckleberry Finn (1885) 6) Kate Chopin, excerpts from The Awakening (1899), and Willa Cather, excerpts from My Antonia (1918) 7) Robert Frost, "Mending Wall" (1914) and "The Road Not Taken" (1916); and Wallace Stevens, "A High-Toned

Old Christian Woman" (1923), "The Man Whose Pharynx Was Bad" (1931), "The Creations of Sound" (1947) and excerpts from "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction" (1947) 8) Sinclair Lewis, excerpts from Babbitt (1922), and F. Scott Fitzgerald, excerpts from The Great Gatsby (1925) 9) Sherwood Anderson, excerpts from Winesburg, Ohio (1919), and John Steinbeck, excerpts from The Grapes of

Wrath (1939) 10) William Faulkner, excerpts from The Sound and the Fury (1929) and from Light in August (1932) 11) Ralph Ellison, excerpts from Invisible Man (1952); and James Baldwin, excerpts from "Faulkner and

Desegregation" (1956), "The Discovery of What It Means to Be an American" (1959) "In Search of a Majority"

(1960) "Notes for a Hypothetical Novel" (1960), and "The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy" (1961) in Nobody

Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son (1964) 12) Thomas Pynchon, excerpts from The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) and from Mason & Dixon (1997); and Tom

Robbins, excerpts from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976) and from Jitterbug Perfume (1984)