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2010-11 syllabus

EN336: States of Damage: C21 US Writing and Culture

Dr Nick Lawrence, convenor:

Visiting Prof. Richard Godden, UC Irvine (term 1):

Prof. Stephen Shapiro (term 2):

Note that there are independent syllabi for each tutor’s seminars (Lawrence and Godden in term 1, Lawrence and Shapiro in term 2). In week 1 of each term, we will conduct a joint session with both module groups; please come to class having prepared the readings for both these weeks. The two groups will switch tutors after each term's Reading Week.


Week 1: Introduction: C21 US writing and culture (joint session)

Slavoj Zizek, “Welcome to the Desert of the Real”

Lawrence term 1 (weeks 2-5 or 7-10):

Week 2/7

Susan Willis, “Empire’s Shadow,” New Left Review 22 (July-August 2003): 59-70
(access online via Warwick Library)

George Trow, Within the Context of No Context (Avalon)

Week 3/8

Deborah Eisenberg, Twilight of the Superheroes (Picador)

Week 4/9

Wallace Shawn, The Fever (Grove)

Wallace Shawn, “The Quest for Superiority” [handout]

Week 5/10

Dexter Filkins, The Forever War (Vintage)

Eliot Weinberger, What I Heard about Iraq (Verso)

Optional extras:

Kathryn Bigelow, dir., The Hurt Locker (Summit Entertainment)

Sebastian Junger and Tim Heatherington, dirs., Restrepo (Outpost Films)

Godden term 1
(week 2-5 or 7-10):

Week 2/7

Bret Easton Ellis, Lunar Park (Picador)

Week 3/8

David Harvey, selections from A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford UP) [handout]: Introduction (pp 1-4); Ch 1 (pp 5-38); Ch 6 (pp 152-182)

Retort, selections from Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War (Verso) [handout]: Introduction (pp 1-15); Ch 1 (pp 16-37); Ch 2 (pp 38-77); Ch 6 (pp 171-196)

Week 4/9

David Foster Wallace, Oblivion (Abacus)

Week 5/10

Jayne Ann Phillips, Lark and Termite (Vintage)


Week 1: Joint session

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (Penguin)

Shapiro term 2 (week 2-5 or 7-10):

Week 2/7

George Saunders, Pastoralia (Bloomsbury)

Week 3/8

Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (HarperPerennial)

Week 4/9

Oliver James, The Selfish Capitalist: Origins of Affluenza (Vermillion)

Week 5/10

Richard Sennett, Respect: The Formation of Character in an Age of Inequality (Penguin)

Lawrence term 2 (week 2-5 or 7-10):

Week 2/7

Cormac McCarthy, The Road (Picador)

Week 3/8

Dave Eggers, Zeitoun (Hamish Hamilton)

Optional extra:

Spike Lee, dir., When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (HBO)

Week 4/9

Poetry sampler – selected handouts from:

Lawrence Griffin, Get the Fuck Back into that Burning Plane (Ugly Duckling Presse)
Juliana Spahr, This Connection of Everyone with Lungs (U of California P)
Joshua Clover, The Totality for Kids (U of California P)
Jennifer Moxley, Clampdown (Flood Editions)
Lisa Robertson, Rousseau's Boat (Nomados)

Christopher Nealon, “Camp Messianism, or the Hopes of Poetry in Late-Late Capitalism” (American Literature 76.3 [Summer 2004]: 578-602) (access online via Warwick Library)

Week 5/10

Charles Burns, Black Hole (Jonathan Cape)