Studies in American Writers: Philip Roth

Course Number: ENGL 132PR
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 132AA-ZZ
Quarter: Fall 2019
Instructor: Maslan, Mark
Day(s): MW
Time: 11:00AM- 12:15PM
Location: SH 1430

Philip Roth, who died last year at the age of 86, was a central and controversial figure in
American fiction for over fifty years. His comic portrayal of assimilating suburban Jewish
Americans in his first book, Goodbye, Columbus, published in 1959 when he was only 26, won
him both the National Book Award and the lasting enmity of many Jewish readers and
institutions. His notoriety only increased when Portnoy’s Complaint, a landmark of the sexual
revolution that was denounced by some as pornographic, became a bestseller in 1969. He
subsequently published over twenty novels in a variety of modes, from the satirical to the
experimental to the historical. In his American trilogy (1997-2000) the scope of his fiction
expanded to produce a portrait of post-war America as riven—from the McCarthy era to the
Clinton impeachment—by the conflict between the quest for purity (political, sexual, ethnic and
racial) and “life in all its shameless impurity.” This course will survey his career from his earliest
short fiction to the end of the last century. Roth delighted in provoking his readers, and
students be prepared to be offended by his treatment of women, Jews and people of color.