INTRO AM POL CULT ( Reality Hunger: Non-Fiction and American Crisis) Chude-Sokei MWF 12:30-1:20
David Shield’s recent book Reality Hunger manages to revive a long standing tension in American literature, between those for whom fiction—as in “the great American novel”—has a privileged access to representing American reality and those who are committed to the notion that American reality, particularly in politically and culturally tumultuous times, is always in excess of fiction, which is to say, too fantastic to invent. Of course this is an unnecessarily polarization, especially since some of America’s finest novelists have also been its finest non-fiction writers, essayists and journalists. However, in a time when American media has helped blur the line between reality and fiction, between the individually curated fantasies of the internet and an exhaustive chronicling of the world, it is an interesting time to reflect on how American writers have regarded this thing called “reality” in a time when it is less and less something that can be taken for granted. Authors to include James Baldwin, Truman Capote, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, Denis Johnson, Greil Marcus and, of course, David Shields.