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Cosmic Systems and Pynchon's 'Against the Day'

Class at Faculty of Arts |



This seminar explores one major late-style work of twenty-first century prose fiction in English, Against the Day (2006), the most recent novel work (1220 pp.) from the contemporary avant-garde American novelist-recluse Thomas Pynchon (1937- present). Critical and theoretical matter will also be enlisted in our collective enterprise of encountering Against the Day.

Emphasis will be placed on questions of what precisely are the diverse forms of culture illuminated through Against the Day?s modes of representation in regard to questions of aesthetics (including of aesthetic pleasure), of epistemology (i.e., of knowledge), of ethics (and so by extension of evil), and of ontology (i.e., of selfhood and of subjectivity). Moreover, the notion of ´modernity´ and of how it functions in, and is critiqued by, Pynchon´s novel, with the aid of various theoretical perspectives (the baroque modern as theorized by Erik Roraback, Niklas Luhmann?s social systems theory, the Frankfurt

School, Deleuze, Walter Benjamin, and so on), will be pursued as objects of critical focus.


To receive credit for the seminar students will be required to have no more than three absences and to submit a final essay of 2000-2500 words that will be graded písemná práce. (Specialization students will need to produce another longer final essay of 3000-3500 words that will be graded písemná práce.)