#6 Contemporary American Fiction

Michael Wood, Ph.D.

Michael Wood, Ph.D. is the Charles Barnwell Straut Professor of English and Comparative Literature Emeritus at Princeton. He received the Howard T. Behrman Award for Achievement in the Humanities in 2002 and the President’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005. A member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books, writing chiefly on modern literature and on film. His most recent book is Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much.

February 15 and March 1, 2017 - 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Michael Wood, Ph.D., Department of English

This seminar will explore novels by four contemporary writers.  The idea is to think about what is happening in current fiction, what its possibilities are, what chances it takes, and where it wants to go.  We won’t be able to think too definitively about these questions, of course, because there are lots of other authors doing other things.  But these four give us a good range to begin with.  They come from different places, are of different ages and temperaments, they use different tones and voices; and they explore different themes. But there are also many points where their texts meet up and they belong very much to our time.  They are ‘contemporary’ in a very immediate sense: all four of these novels were published in the last three years.  They are:
J M Coetzee, The Childhood of Jesus, 2013
Lorrie Moore, Bark, 2014
Ian McEwan, The Children Act, 2014
Toni Morrison, God Help the Child, 2015