Paranoid Hermeneutics Syllabus and Course Outline


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


Course outline:

1. Introduction: The Death of the Novel (early diagnoses)
2. Four Types of American paranoia (cold-war, drugs, technology, government)
3. Nabokov, Pale Fire
--Paranoid Hermeneutics and Modernity
--The Modernist Quixotic Novel --Interrogating Genre
--Paratext: Limits of the Book/Text
--Overpatterning and the Limits of Overinterpretation
--Themes: Fate, Chance and Afterlife
4. Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
-- Drug Culture in the 60s
-- Entropy and Information
-- Herneneutics vs Revelation: the epileptic word
-- Gender Politics

5a. Historical Interlude
-- Notes on Paranoia and Cold-War American History
--Four Types of American paranoia: the Five Moments (50s witch-hunt, 60s bomb-scare, 60s drug culture, 70s Watergate, 70s surveillance, 80s bomb-scare)
-- Three Films
5b. Philip Roth, Operation Shylock
--Playing with doubles
--Paratext and Paranoia
--The Locus of truth

6. Theoretical Interlude: notes on the death of the novel
-- The Novel 3.0 
--Ortega y Gasset
7. Danielwsky, House of Leaves
--Notes on Genre
--The Uncanny
8. David Foster Wallace, The Pale King
9. Mazzuchelli, Asterios Polyp
--Playing with doubles
--The campus novel
--Materiality of the graphic novel



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