The American Novel Since 1945

Yale Course , Spring 2008 , Prof. Amy Hungerford

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Overview

Introductions - Richard Wright, Black Boy - Flannery OConnor, Wise Blood - Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita - Guest Lecture by Andrew Goldstone - Jack Kerouac, On the Road - J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey - John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse - Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 - Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye - Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior - Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping - Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian - Philip Roth, The Human Stain - Edward P. Jones, The Known World - Students Choice Novel: Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated

Lecture 21: Philip Roth, The Human Stain (cont.) II

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        Lecture Details

        In this final lecture on The Human Stain, Professor Hungerford argues that desire is the engine of narrative, for Roth, both at the structural level and in the very grammar of his sentences. Sex and writing are alike in their attempt to cross the boundaries between persons. Passing does not only occur racially, but is also likened to the process whereby a writer, like Roth or his proxy Nathan Zuckerman, comes to inhabit the subjectivities of other characters. One effect of these conflations—for example, Nathan standing for Faunia as he dances with Coleman--is to raise the threat of homoeroticism, which for Roth collapses difference with same-sex desire. Such stereotypes are a controversial characteristic of Roths fiction, which nevertheless continues to draw great admiration.

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