Single Author


English 440: Single Author (Fall 2019)

Patricia Highsmith and the Aesthetics of the Cold War (1921-95)

Every once in a while, a writer comes along who lifts a genre to a different level altogether, and by that elevation, says something about the age we live in more profoundly than any history book ever could. Patricia Highsmith is such a writer, hailed for her terse psychological thrillers in which the murderer not only gets away, but continues to fulfill his life’s pursuits and pleasures in a guiltless fashion. Set in the heart of the cold war period in settings that range from a puritanical American mid-west to a bohemian Europe, Highsmith’s oeuvre explores the themes of stories gone wrong, and stories of riveting suspense in which nothing happens. This course introduces students to Highsmith’s works alongside selections from Freud and Marx to understand the alternating rhythms of anomie and violence that characterized the cold war conundrum of war without war. Highsmith is currently witnessing a revival in terms of a number of her books adapted for films. Alongside a set of her novels, we will be watching films adaptations of some of her novels.

Key Texts
1. Strangers on a Train
2. Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock)
3. The Talented Mr. Ripley
4. The Talented Mr. Ripley (Minghella)
5. The Price of Salt
6. Those who Walk Away
7. Tales of Misogyny
8. Eaux Profondes (Michelle Deville)
9. The Cry of the Owl

Class Requirements and Procedures

The class is writing intensive. 16 pages or 4000 words of formal writing is mandatory. Requirements include attendance and participation (30), an oral presentation (10), a close reading (20), an abstract proposal (15), and an argument based essay (25).