What’s “Contemporary” About Contemporary Literature?

What does it mean to be contemporary? Does the contemporary refer only to the present, or does it also have a history and a future? Does it describe a specific temporal period (post-2000? post-1989? post-WWII?), or an attitude about time (being decidedly “of one’s moment”)? And why, in this contemporary moment, are we so captivated by these questions about the very nature of “our contemporary moment” itself? We will explore these questions and more in this course by reading some of the best works of contemporary US literature published in the past 10 years. Although all of these works are very contemporary, they also all take place in different times or are about the experience of different times, forcing us to confront what we mean by the word “contemporary,” and why we mean it. We will also discuss how contemporary scholars, critics, and artists are currently defining the art of our ever-changing “contemporary” moment.

MW 3:35-4:50
Dooly Memorial 213

Professor Lindsay Thomas
TA: Samina Ali

Office Hours
MW 2:00 – 3:00 pm, and by appointment
Ashe 401

Note: As with any course, the work of many scholars has gone into the creation of this class. I am especially grateful to Gerry Canavan, however; I am borrowing several of his ideas from his Infinite Jest course for this course.