AJ4302 Contemporary American literature and society

Faculty of Education
Spring 2019
Extent and Intensity
0/2/0. 2 credit(s). Type of Completion: z (credit).
Mgr. Zdeněk Janík, M.A., Ph.D. (seminar tutor)
Mgr. Jiří Šalamoun, Ph.D. (seminar tutor)
Guaranteed by
Mgr. Lucie Podroužková, Ph.D.
Department of English Language and Literature - Faculty of Education
Contact Person: Jana Popelková
Supplier department: Department of English Language and Literature - Faculty of Education
Timetable of Seminar Groups
AJ4302/01: Mon 10:00–11:50 učebna 10, Z. Janík, J. Šalamoun
AJ4302/02: Mon 13:00–14:50 učebna 53, Z. Janík, J. Šalamoun
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is only offered to the students of the study fields the course is directly associated with.
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
Course objectives
This course introduces students to major trends, authors and works of contemporary American literature by focusing on themes relevant for current times and provides connections to current political, cultural and social events. The central theme is the issue of identity - national, transnational, gender, social, racial, ethnic and multiethnic.
At the end of this course, students should be able to
identify cultural values and interpret their significance
describe postmodernism, discuss its causes and origins
identify and analyze postmodern features in literary texts
explain how minority writers (women, ethnic, racial and sexual minorities) have used postmodern narrative techniques to define their identities
Learning outcomes
At the end of the course, the students will be able to:
- identify and describe major trends in postwar American literature and understand their relationship to American society and culture
- familiar with major works of fiction, art, and historical events which influenced the social life of the U.S. of America
- develop your skills in analytical reading and proposal writings
- understand and frame literary works as a form of social commentary which responds to specific historical occurrences
  • 1. Cultural, social and literary themes of contemporary USA
  • 2. Theories of poststructuralism as a tool to interpret contemporary culture
  • 3. Postmodern Identity (Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, Kurt Vonnegut)
  • 4. Revisiting History (E. L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison)
  • 5. New ideas, new genres (graphic novel, cyberpunk)
  • 6. Critique of literary canon and critique of poststructuralism (Adrienne Rich, Gloria Anzaldua, Barbara Christian)
  • 7. Identity and Race (Alice Walker, Amiri Baraka, Lucille Clifton)
  • 8. Identity and Ethnicity I (Sandra Cisneros, Amy Tan) 9. Identity and Ethnicity II (Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie)
  • 10. Identity and Gender (Ursula LeGuin, Adrienne Rich, Olga Broumas)
  • 11. Queer Identity (Leslie Feinberg, Olga Broumas)
  • 12. Transnational Identity (R. Jarrar, Iva Pekarkova)
  • The Columbia history of the American novel. Edited by Emory Elliott - Cathy N. Davidson. New York: Columbia University, 1991. xviii, 905. ISBN 0-231-07360-7. info
  • The Heath anthology of American literature. Edited by Paul Lauter. Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1990. xxxix, 261. ISBN 0-669-12065-0. info
  • Columbia literary history of the United States. Edited by Emory Elliott. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988. xxviii, 12. ISBN 0-231-05812-8. info
Teaching methods
discussion-based seminars
group work
Assessment methods
1) Response papers (1 for each seminar), focusing on one text from the assigned reading
2) final credit test
3) in-class presentation of an argument (based on the novel you read)
Language of instruction
Further Comments
Study Materials
The course is taught annually.
The course is also listed under the following terms Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022.
  • Enrolment Statistics (Spring 2019, recent)
  • Permalink: https://is.muni.cz/course/ped/spring2019/AJ4302