30:478 Postmodernism & Beyond

Aram Bartholl, MAP, Taipei

Aram Bartholl, MAP, Taipei

Winter 2014

Instructor:  Dr. Reinhold Kramer                           109 Clark Hall                                                                        727-7344         kramer@brandonu.ca                Office hours:  2:40-3:30  (Mon, Wed, Thur.)        Home page:  google “Reinhold Kramer” or go  to https://people.brandonu.ca/kramer/

Course Description:  We will examine late 20th-century and early 21st-century literature and film, focusing on how artistic works and human emotions respond to new media environments, to scientific advances, and to a culture of simulation.  Films could include Joel & Ethan Coen, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Kaufman & Jonze, Adaptation.  Fiction could include Stoppard, The Real Inspector Hound; Lem, A Perfect Vacuum; Wallace, The Suffering Channel; Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story; Powers, Generosity; and Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad. Titles may change with little notice.


  1. Class Participation                                                                                              10%
  2. Reading Tests                           20 Jan.; 3 Feb.; 3 Mar.; 31 Mar.        10%
  3. Test                                                 12 Feb.                                                             20%
  4. Seminar presentations (choose date)   2 x 10%                                   20%
  5. Essay  (10-12 pages)              9 Apr.                                                                 20%
  6. Final Exam                                    21 April, 2-4 p.m.                                       20%

Note:  There may be penalties for lateness, depending upon circumstances.  Reading tests cannot be postponed, and missed tests cannot be rewritten without a doctor’s note or other documentation.  Cite all your sources – assignments containing plagiarism will be graded “0” and will result in disciplinary action.  See BU General Calendar 4.2.2 “Academic Integrity.”  No cell phones in class.

Students with disabilities who require accommodation should register with the Disability Services Coordinator.  Some students may find readings, films, and/or discussions of controversial matters troubling.  If so, contact the instructor immediately for alternative assignments or an alternative course.


Outstanding          Good                Satisfactory                 Weak                   Inadequate

A+  90 & up            B+ 77-79          C+ 67-69                      D 50-59               F 0-49

A    84-89                 B   74-76           C   64-66

A-   80-83                  B-  70-73         C-  60-63

Texts:   (If you buy a used text, ensure that your edition matches the BU Bookstore edition.)

Borges, Jorge Luis.  Labyrinths

Egan, Jennifer.  A Visit from the Goon Squad

Lem, Stanislaw.  A Perfect Vacuum

Powers, Richard.  Generosity

Shteyngart, Gary.  Super Sad True Love Story

Stoppard, Tom.  The Real Inspector Hound

Wallace, David Foster.  The Suffering Channel


Tentative Schedule:

Jan. 6, 8                  The Image; Features of Postmodernism

Parody and the Missing Referent

Jan. 13                    Decide on seminar presentations

Jan. 13 – 15         Tom Stoppard, The Real Inspector Hound (1968)

Postmodern Culture

Jan. 20 – 29         Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (2010)

Reality vs. Fiction

Feb. 3 – 10          David Foster Wallace, The Suffering Channel (2004)

Feb. 12                  Test

Feb. 16 – 20        Spring break


Feb. 24                  Boundaries of Postmodernism                                                                                                                                           Jorge Luis Borges, “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” (1940), “Borges and I” (1960)    Feb. 26                                                “The Lottery of Babylon” (1941), “The Library of Babel” (1941)

Society of the Spectacle

Mar. 3 – 12             Richard Powers, Generosity (2009)

Alternate Worlds

Mar. 17                    Stanislaw Lem, “Les Robinsonades,” “Gruppenführer Louis XVI”                       Mar. 19                               “Rien du tout, ou la consequence,” “Idiota,” “Odysseus of Ithaca,”                                                                 “Being Inc.,” “A Perfect Vacuum” (Introduction) (1971)


Mar. 24 – 26           Charlie Kaufman, Adaptation (2002) (1:50)                                                                                                                 Note: on 24 March we will begin at 8:00 a.m. in order to watch the whole film

Media Simulacra

Mar. 31 – Apr. 9      Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)

Apr. 9                            Essay Due, Review

Apr. 21                         Final Exam (Tues., 2-4 p.m.)