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Department of English Language and Literature

Faculty and Staff Directory

David Cowart

Title: Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Department: English Language and Literature
College of Arts and Sciences
Office: HUO, Room 318
Resources: English Language and Literature


PhD, Rutgers University
MA, Indiana University
BA, University of Alabama


    American Fiction After 1945 (special interest in Pynchon, DeLillo, Richard Powers, Gloria Naylor, Chang-rae Lee)
    Modern British and American Literature
    Contemporary Immigrant Literature in America


   • ENGL 282    Fiction
   • ENGL 285    Themes in American Writing
   • ENGL 287    Introduction to American Literature
   • ENGL 288    Introduction to British Literature I
   • ENGL 289    Introduction to British Literature II
   • ENGL 385    Modernism
   • ENGL 386    Postmodernism
   • ENGL 413    Modern English Literature
   • ENGL 423    Modern American Literature
   • ENGL 425    Topics Courses on Modern American Novel, Encyclopedic Imagination
   • SCHC 450-60    Proseminars on Pynchon, Current Novels, Literary Symbiosis
   • ENGL 752    Modern American Fiction
   • ENGL 753    American Novel Since World War II
   • ENGL 840-850    Seminars in Literary Originality, Postmodernism, Immigrant Literature


    Fulbright Specialist, 2013-2018, 2001-2006
    David Cowart Scholarship endowed by alumnus, 2006
    Board of Trustees Professor (University of South Carolina, 2006)
    Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer, Japan, 2005
    SAMLA Studies Book Award for Don DeLillo: The Physics of Language ($1000 prize for best scholarly book by a SAMLA member), 2003
    NEH Fellowship 2002-2003
    Louise Fry Scudder Professor, 1998
    Chair in American Studies (Fulbright Distinguished Appointment), University of Odense, Denmark, 1996-1997
    University of South Carolina Educational Foundation Award, 1995
    Michael J. Mungo Award for Undergraduate Teaching, 1995
    Bicentennial Chair in American Studies (Fulbright Distinguished Appointment), University of Helsinki, 1992-1993
    NEH Summer Stipend, 1990 (for work on Literary Symbiosis)
    Department of English Outstanding Teacher, 1990
    Amoco Outstanding Teaching Award, 1987 (now the Michael J. Mungo Distinguished Professor of the Year Award)
    Thomas Pynchon: The Art of Allusion cited among the Outstanding Academic Books of 1980 by the editors of Choice


I have long wanted, by adding a volume on Cormac McCarthy to my studies of Pynchon and DeLillo, to achieve in criticism a kind of postmodern trifecta.  All three of these writers apply themselves to historicized narrative; all three subvert traditional historiography; all three resist what DeLillo calls the “flat, thin, tight, and relentless designs” of official history, written in “a single uninflected voice, the monotone of the state, the corporate entity, the product, the assembly line.”  But for really aggressive disruption of statist mythography, one turns to the novels of McCarthy.  In what spirit, I ask, might the contemporary writer of fiction legitimately scrutinize the past?  The most interesting–and postmodern–of contemporary historical novels are not so much about the past as about representations and conceptualizations of the past.  In the hands of postmodern novelists, historiography becomes its own subject. The reader of postmodern historical fiction discovers, among other things, that the routine iconoclasm of the modernists (their desire to “shock the middle class”) has become something more epistemologically radical.  McCarthy, like Pynchon and DeLillo, deconstructs the modernist predilection for mythopoesis and mythography and metanarrative.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.