The label, Experimental Fiction, has been applied and misapplied since Laurence Sterne’s novel, Tristam Shandy, was first published in 1759. In this class, we will dissect and examine the label and the work often associated with that label, questioning what it means to be ‘experimental’ as an American writer of fiction. Over the semester we will tackle modernist and postmodern techniques such as metafiction, resistance of closure, authorial intrusion, collage, indeterminacy, pastiche, stream of consciousness, surrealism, defamiliarization, paradox, and hybridity. Authors to be discussed include Faulkner, Hemingway, Lydia Davis, Ramona Ausubel, Amelia Grey, David Markson, Ben Marcus, Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, among others. We will also listen to The Electric Lady, by Janelle Monae, and screen the first season of ALTANTA, created by Donald Glover, in order to discuss other narrative forms as vehicles for experimental fictions. Students should expect to write critical essays, participate actively and vocally in class conversations, complete a final project, and produce many of their own experimental fictions. This is an advanced course intended for students with prior college-level coursework in literature and/or creative writing.
Corequisites: Students in this class are required to attend Wednesday night literature events.