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Experimental Literature

Reading Assignment

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Read Donald Barthelme’s “The School.” (Links to an external site.) Be sure to hit ‘more’ at the end of the first selection. Then read Don DeLillo’s “Videotape.”Preview the document As you explore these short stories, consider the following: https://legacy.npr.org/programs/death/readings/stories/bart.html
who are the narrators? which characters from previous readings do they most resemble and why? in what ways are the new characters? what comment does each story make about modern American society?
how is humor used by Barthelme to critique society? does Barthelme argue more about life and death, or about instructing the next generation? what’s his main target?
if Barthelme is using humor to critique, what is DeLillo’s strategy? does DeLillo argue more about life and death, or social behavior (such as voyeurism!)? what’s his main target?
which text do you consider the most experimental and why?
do you see the similarity in Barthelme’s and DeLillo’s use of children?
Discussion Questions:
The general questions this discussion aims to answer are:
what arguments regarding the condition of modern America do these experimental literary texts express?
how does the experimental form of each story impact your reading experience? does experimental literature maintain the aesthetics of traditional literature? why or why not? do Barthelme and DeLillo show progress from the disillusionment of the lost generation?

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