Program Courses

Please note that course schedules may be amended due to low enrollment, faculty availability, and/or other factors.

Online Sync Sessions are an integral part of the online learning experience. Additional information about learning concepts and assignments may be discussed and sync sessions offer valuable opportunities for students to interact with their faculty and peers during the term. We encourage all students to attend live, but if they are unable to, sync sessions will be recorded and posted within Canvas to allow for an asynchronous model of success as well.

LIT 480-0 : Facing Absurdity: 20th-Century Experimental Fiction from East Europe and the USA


This course will explore the responses of selected writers from Central and Eastern Europe and the United States to conditions of absurdity and alienation brought on by the loss of stable values, the rise of totalitarianism, and the experience of war in the twentieth century. We will examine the ways in which these writers use imaginative distortions of reality or create imaginary worlds in order to comment obliquely on social and political conditions, address philosophical questions, and playfully engage the reader in a dialogue on the narrative process. Beginning with fiction from the first decades of the twentieth century (Kafka, Schulz, Bulgakov), we will move on to the "postmodernist" writers of the 1960s to 1980s, including one cosmopolitan novel by the Italian writer Italo Calvino, with Nabokov as the bridge between Europeans and Americans. Readings will include all or most of the following: Franz Kafka, The Trial (1914-15, publ.1925), Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles (1934); Michail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (1928-1940; publ. 1966); Milorad Pavic, Dictionary of the Khazars (1983); Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler (1979); Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (1962); Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966); Tim O'Brien, Going After Cacciato (1978); selections from Stanislaw Lem, A Perfect Vacuum (1971).

“It is with fiction as with religion: it should present another world, and yet one to which we feel the tie.” - Herman Melville, The Confidence-Man (1857)

(This course may count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, American Literature, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the Master of Arts in Literature and Advanced Graduate Study Certificate programs. It may also count towards the American Studies or Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies and Advanced Graduate Study Certificate programs. This course may also count as an elective in the Master of Arts and Fine Arts in Creative Writing program.)

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