Spring 2022

Literature of Everyday Life

Listed in: English, as ENGL-391


Anna J. Abramson (Section 01)


This is a class all about the art of noticing. Our primary texts fixate on what Amit Chaudhuri calls “the moment of noticing”: heightened attention to the (seemingly) small, the ordinary, the routine. Many readings will be “day-in-the-life” novels set over a 24-hour period; others dwell on single moments, fleeting impressions, or routine rhythms of daily life.

We will discuss questions such as: What formal and stylistic strategies do writers employ to capture everyday life? What happens to narrative conventions of plot and the event when writers are more interested in the textures, rhythms, and background environments of everyday life? How does the ordinary become extraordinary? How does one narrate history in the making, as it unfolds in everyday life? How are major historical events and political structures felt over the course of a typical day? Is it a privilege to think about the everyday as either boring or beautiful? Does it even make sense to talk about “everyday literature” when experiences of daily life are so diverse and varied?

This class will pair novels and short stories with select critical readings from affect theory, urban studies, modernist studies, cultural studies, and ecocriticism. Possible authors include James Baldwin, Amit Chaudhuri, Anton Chekhov, Christopher Isherwood, James Joyce, Kathleen Stewart, Madeleine Thien, and Virginia Woolf.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Abramson.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings, independent research, oral presentations, group work Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022