Topics in American Literature


This course will explore the recent history of the teenager in the United States, from the rise of teen culture in the 1950s to the current state of adolescence in the new century. Why have so many novels and films memorialized adolescence? How has the period of development been portrayed in recent American fiction? How have depictions and attitudes toward teen culture changed over the past fifty years? We will begin with J.D. Salinger's classic novel of adolescence alienation, "The Catcher in the Rye," a book that in many ways helped initiate the rise of the youth movement in the 1950s and 60s. From there, we will read a series of novels and historical studies that will trace the changes in teen culture that have occurred over the past half century. Our class will also consider a few films, such as "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Dazed and Confused," which have helped shape our conception of the American teenager. Ultimately, we will question what these depictions of teen culture can tell us about larger trends and concerns in American life. Possible readings include Judy Blume's "Forever," Celeste Ng's "Everything I Never Told You," and Colson Whitehead's "Sag Harbor." Satisfies the Twentieth Century and later requirement.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM; EL TC

Section 01

Topics in American Literature
View Course Listing - SP2022