January 26th, 2010 / 5:29 pm
Behind the Scenes

If you were teaching a class on American experimental fiction, what texts would you choose, and why?

My apologies to Jereme, who recently commented something along the lines of “htmlgiant is like a teacher’s lounge,” but since I spent the weekend putting together course proposals for next year, I thought I’d share one of the possible reading lists I devised for my “Introduction to American Experimental Fiction” course. You’ll notice that all of the selections are on the shorter side <300 pages. This is crucial, so that I can cover a bunch of different texts. Nothing is set in stone yet, so I would love to hear what you would add or subtract from this list, and why:

Ishmael Reed – Mumbo Jumbo
William S. Burroughs – The Soft Machine
Kathy Acker – Blood and Guts in High School
Carole Maso – Aureole
Jean Toomer – Cane
David Markson – This Is Not A Novel
Gertrude Stein – Tender Buttons
Ben Marcus – The Age of Wire and String

*As a bonus, my wife found this cool database of syllabi for American Lit courses from professors at various universities (including a Poetics syllabus from Susan Howe for a course on “Sexuality and Space in 17th – 19th Century American Literature.”

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217 Comments

  1. Kate

      yes speedboat! i fucking love that book. it’s a companion for me to elizabeth hardwick’s sleepless nights.

  2. Kate

      yes speedboat! i fucking love that book. it’s a companion for me to elizabeth hardwick’s sleepless nights.

  3. Kate

      Stu – I tried to teach Nightwood, once, and it really went over student’s heads (it wasn’t a specialized course). Someone totally needs to come out with a reading companion to Nightwood, much like there is with Ulysses, and even Crying of Lot 49.

      Nightwood is one of my favorite books of all time. Even though I don’t understand all of it.

  4. Kate

      Stu – I tried to teach Nightwood, once, and it really went over student’s heads (it wasn’t a specialized course). Someone totally needs to come out with a reading companion to Nightwood, much like there is with Ulysses, and even Crying of Lot 49.

      Nightwood is one of my favorite books of all time. Even though I don’t understand all of it.

  5. Experimental Fiction as Genre and as Principle « BIG OTHER

      […] 3, 2010 by A D Jameson Christopher Higgs at HTMLGIANT recently posted this question: “If you were teaching a class on American experimental fiction, what texts would you choose, […]

  6. Eckhard Gerdes

      Hey, AD!

      I just saw this! I have taught such a class before, and if I remember correctly, I used (or should have):

      Brautigan–In Watermelon Sugar
      Patchen–Sleepers Awake
      Federman–Double or Nothing
      Gass–In the Heart of the Heart of the Country
      Barth–Lost in the Funhouse
      Georgiana Peacher–Mary Stuart’s Ravishment Descending Time
      Barthelme–Dead Father
      Jim Chapman–In Candyland It’s Cool to Feed on Your Friends

      maybe Kerouac’s Subterraneans
      and maybe Cistern Tawdry (I’m not too proud to assign my own work).

      Best wishes,

      Eckhard

  7. Eckhard Gerdes

      Hey, AD!

      I just saw this! I have taught such a class before, and if I remember correctly, I used (or should have):

      Brautigan–In Watermelon Sugar
      Patchen–Sleepers Awake
      Federman–Double or Nothing
      Gass–In the Heart of the Heart of the Country
      Barth–Lost in the Funhouse
      Georgiana Peacher–Mary Stuart’s Ravishment Descending Time
      Barthelme–Dead Father
      Jim Chapman–In Candyland It’s Cool to Feed on Your Friends

      maybe Kerouac’s Subterraneans
      and maybe Cistern Tawdry (I’m not too proud to assign my own work).

      Best wishes,

      Eckhard

  8. A D Jameson

      Hi, Eckhard! But WHERE ARE ALL THE WOMEN??????????????????????????????

  9. A D Jameson

      Hi, Eckhard! But WHERE ARE ALL THE WOMEN??????????????????????????????

  10. Eckhard Gerdes

      What do you think Georgiana Peacher is? But you are right. Add Kathy Acker, of course! I love Acker! Blood & Guts in High School or Don Quixote.

  11. Eckhard Gerdes

      What do you think Georgiana Peacher is? But you are right. Add Kathy Acker, of course! I love Acker! Blood & Guts in High School or Don Quixote.

  12. Eckhard Gerdes

      And Stein’s Tender Buttons. Acker, Stein and Peacher. That’s a powerful trio.

  13. Eckhard Gerdes

      And Stein’s Tender Buttons. Acker, Stein and Peacher. That’s a powerful trio.

  14. Toni Jensen

      Salvador Plascencia–The People of Paper
      Karen Tei Yamashita–Tropic of Orange
      Stephen Graham Jones–All the Beautiful Sinners

  15. Toni Jensen

      Salvador Plascencia–The People of Paper
      Karen Tei Yamashita–Tropic of Orange
      Stephen Graham Jones–All the Beautiful Sinners

  16. Elkin Rob

      Doug Nufer, Never Again

  17. traductortraductor

      traductortraductor

      If you were teaching a class on American experimental fiction, what texts would you choose, and why? | HTMLGIANT