Course Overview: The New Yorker, a magazine that stands at the center of American publishing and literary culture, has its headquarters at One World Trade Center, right in the heart of Manhattan—a city that itself stands at the center of American culture. Yet from this office space in the heart of New York City, the New Yorker has edited, published, and given space in the pages of its magazine to authors writing fiction from spaces around the world. In this group of global authors are major fiction writers from around the world, writing about places around the world, including Jamaica Kincaid, Zadie Smith, Vladimir Nabokov, Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, Nadine Gordimer, Edwidge Danticat, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Roberto Bolaño, Yiyun Li, and Petina Gappah. What is the relationship between an American culture of publishing and its readership centered in an American city, and the world as depicted in fiction for New Yorker readers? What is “American” about the fiction published in the New Yorker pages, and how does the idea of American fiction change when we consider these short stories from around the world as part of an American canon of literature? How do these writers from around the world, writing about spaces beyond the United States create, respond to, or grapple with existing American fictions of the world beyond its borders, perceptions often built on caricature and stereotypes? How does the relationship between Anglophone literature and its American publishers, editors, and curators help us to newly understand what it means to write about the world in English?
Course Goals: In this course, we will look at major writers from around the world whose words and voices first reached readers in the United States through The New Yorker. We will read global Anglophone fiction published in the New Yorker, alongside factual global reportage published contemporaneously by the magazine. Together, we will try to understand the encounters that take place between global fiction and American literary culture at One World Trade Center. Likely primary readings will include short fiction by Dinaw Mengetsu, Nadine Gordimer, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jamaica Kincaid, Vladimir Nabokov, Salman Rushdie, Edwidge Danticat, Yiyun Li, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Zadie Smith. Secondary readings and multimedia may include selections from Mark McGurl The Program Era, Amy Hungerford Making Literature Now, Ben Yagoda About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made, David Damrosch What is World Literature?