Bread Loaf in Santa Fe
Summer 2007
Contemporary British Fiction                                 Suzanne Keen

This course of readings in contemporary British fiction emphasizes the narrative experimentation that has been a striking feature of contemporary fiction since the 1970s. How that experimentation, especially with modes of retrospection, accompanies fictive meditations on consciousness, memory, and history will be our central subject. Novels in a variety of genres by major writers will provide the primary texts for discussion. The course will include a detailed introduction to the vocabulary for analyzing narrative technique, including narrative situation (narrators and points of view); levels, frames, and embedding; orderly and anachronous narration; pace and timing; beginnings and closure; the modes for representation of fictional consciousness; narrative unreliability; characterization; and theories of plot. Broader topics for discussion include contemporary genres, postmodernity; the uses of the past and the historical turn; depictions of world war and Empire; and the representation of otherness. All of these subtopics fold into our inquiry into the ways novelists tackle the problem of other minds.

For the first day, please read Haddon's Curious Incident and Zunshine 1-40 (bring to class)

Texts: Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time ( Vintage. ISBN: 1400032717); Lisa Zunshine, Why We Read Fiction (Ohio State. ISBN: 081425151X) --the texts we will discuss on the first day of class (please bring them); A. S. Byatt, Possession (Vintage, ISBN: 0679735909); Martin Amis, Time's Arrow (Vintage Books. ISBN: 0679735720); Ali Smith, Hotel World ( Anchor. ISBN: 0385722109); Sarah Waters, The Night Watch (Penguin, ISBN: 159448905X); David Mitchell, The Cloud Atlas (Random House. ISBN: 0375507256); Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (Vintage Books. ISBN: 0679731725); Ian McEwan, Atonement (Anchor . ISBN: 038572179X); Doris Lessing, The Memoirs of a Survivor (Vintage. ISBN: 0394757599); Barbara Vine, The Minotaur (Shaye Areheart Books. ISBN: 0307237605) and as a supplementary text, Suzanne Keen, Narrative Form (Palgrave. ISBN: 0333960971).

10%   participation in discussion (includes presentations)
45%    8-10 page paper (2500- 3000 words)
45%    8-10 page paper (2500-3000 words)

The Complete Review Contemporary British Fiction Index Page:
British Council Index of Contemporary Writers in the UK.
Hyperizons hypetext website.

Individual authors:

Martin Amis web:
A. S. Byatt official site:
Mark Haddon official site:
Kazuo Ishiguro (British Council site):
Doris Lessing's official website:
Ian McEwan's official website:
David Mitchell (British Council site): Smith (British Council).
Barbara Vine, a pseudonymn of Ruth Rendell (British Council):

Return to Suzanne Keen’s home page.