Paranoid Hermeneutics I & II: The American Novel after the Death of the Novel

The course looks at a number of texts that explore paranoia, not as a medical condition but as a hermeneutic approach coinciding with a modernist and postmodernist fascination with all-encompassing sign systems. The discussion will focus on the following themes: the nature of subjective experience; the power of media; the relation between fiction and reality; entropy and semiotics; hyper-reality; the ontological status of hallucinations; artificial intelligence; the viability of the novel as a contemporary narrative genre.

Asterios Polyp

Syllabus (Primary Sources):

  • Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire
  • Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
  • Philip Roth, Operation Shylock
  • Three Films
  • Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
  • David Foster Wallace, The Pale King
  • David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp