ENGL 0201A: Dirty Laundry: Privacy, Paranoia, and Performance in 20th-Century American Fiction (Brown University)




What does privacy mean in America’s 20th century? Our course examines the conditions of privacy from both a literary and historical perspective, in order to understand how concerns about privacy have shaped American life in both the domestic and public spheres. Our readings—supplemented by contemporary social and political thought—will allow us to critique issues ranging from the individual’s anxiety about “dirty laundry” to national concerns about privacy and freedom. Finally, in tracing the tensions between the individual and society, we will consider the role of the novel in mediating this divide as both a public and private gesture.