What is the course about?
An exploration of some recent works of fiction in contemporary American literature, considering the authors and their writing within their social and cultural context.
Patricia Sweeney is Programme Coordinator for Literature and Film at City Lit, with specialist teaching interests in modern and contemporary literature, drama and film adaptation. In addition to her work at City Lit, Patricia has taught literature courses for the Open University and Literature, Drama and Film courses for Birkbeck, University of London.
What will we cover?
We will consider the social and cultural concerns that are producing a vibrant fictional landscape as well as exploring narrative structure, character and language in the selected texts.
We will be reading and exploring three novels by authors who have made an impact on the current American literary scene:
'A Gate at the Stairs' by Lorrie Moore (Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2010)
'Hilarious and distressing, entertaining and wise…Moore is one of the very best American writers working today.' Roddy Doyle
'An American Marriage' by Tayari Jones (winner of the 2019 Women's Prize for fiction).
'It is a story of love, loss and loyalty, the resilience of the human spirit painted on a big political canvas that shines a light on today's America… the prose is luminous, striking and utterly moving.'
(Prof. Kate Williams, Chair of Judges, The Women's Prize for Fiction)
'On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous' by Ocean Vuong (Winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize for poetry, Vuong's writings have been published in the Atlantic, Harper's, the Nation, New Republic and the New Yorker.)
'Luminous, shattering, urgent, necessary. But the word I keep circling back to is raw: that's how powerful the emotions here are.' Celeste Ng.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
-Extend your reading of contemporary American fiction
-Recognise and respond to the works of the writers
-Evaluate and discuss the work in a more informed manner
-Identify the works of important American fiction in the new millennium.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
You will need an enthusiasm for reading and discussing a range of texts in large and small groups.
You will be willing and able to do some reading and preparation outside the class.
You will be interested in listening to, and learning from, the responses of other students to the work discussed.
You will have a commitment to developing your analytical skills.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
A mixture of lecture, discussion, reading, large and small group work. There will be reading homework each week.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
-Bring pen and paper.
-Please buy or borrow:
'An American Marriage' (2018) by Tayari Jones (Oneworld Publications, 2019)
'A Gate at the Stairs' by Lorrie Moore (Faber & Faber, 2009, 2010)
'On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous' by Ocean Vuong (Jonathan Cape, 2019) available in paperback in May 2020
Short fiction will be provided by the lecturer.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Have a look at all our Literature courses in History, Culture and Writing on www.citylit.ac.uk or under Humanities in the prospectus.