Much American literature of the 1940s is concerned with issues of identity that resonate across the decades – race, gender, and the relationship of individuals to groups that help define them. Yet there are variations on these themes that may not be so familiar. These variations may give us some new perspective on contemporary perceptions of identity in society. We will read novels by five writers – two still well-known today (Carson McCullers and Ralph Ellison), and three considerably less so (John Horne Burns, Ann Petry, and Jo Sinclair) – to explore some of these themes. Each student will be asked to give some introductory comments at one session to help begin the discussion of the novel assigned for that day.
Note: This reading group will meet on the following dates: 9/7, 9/21, 10/5, 10/19, 11/2, 11/9.