Culture and identity : the academic setting in Philip Roth's The Human Stain and Francine Prose's Blue angel

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michelle Britt (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
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Abstract: The academic novel is a genre that continues to expand in both scholarship and critical review. The Human Stain by Philip Roth and Blue Angel by Francine Prose are examples of the evolution of this genre. Both novels are set on Northern New England college campuses and look at the absurdities and hypocrisies present in contemporary American society. In the introduction to this study, I look at the history and background of the academic novel and investigate some of the literary characteristics associated with the genre. I go on to give brief background information on novelists Philip Roth and Francine Prose and conclude with a synopsis of The Human Stain and Blue Angel. The first chapter explores some of the comments and observations about modern American culture articulated by each of these novels. I give particular attention to the issues of sex and sexuality, collegiality, family, racism, feminism, and political correctness. I view each issue in terms of how it affects various characters and discuss the role of the academic setting. In the second chapter I examine identity and the role of the college campus in identity construction. I specifically focus on Roth’s characters Coleman Silk, a professor of Classics and his lover Faunia Farley, a college janitor and on Prose’s character Ted Swenson, a professor of fiction writing. In each chapter I draw conclusions as well as form personal opinions resulting from research I have done for this study. I conclude with my thoughts on where the genre of the academic novel is headed and whether I believe that these two academic novels by Roth and Prose are effective vehicles to provide commentary on contemporary American society.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Prose Francine 1947-Blue angel--Criticism and interpretation, Roth Philip Human stain--Criticism and interpretation
Roth, Philip. Human stain -- Criticism and interpretation
Prose, Francine, 1947- Blue angel -- Criticism and interpretation

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