2012-2013 University Catalog 
    Feb 22, 2024  
2012-2013 University Catalog archived

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ENGL 380 - Advanced Seminar

Credits: 3 in fall or winter, 4 in spring
Planned Offering: Fall, Winter, Spring

Prerequisite: ENGL 299. Enrollment limited. A seminar course on a topic, genre, figure, or school (e.g. African-American women’s literature, epic film, Leslie Marmon Silko, feminist literary theory) with special emphasis on research and discussion. The topic will be limited in scope to permit study in depth. Student suggestions for topics are welcome. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different. 

Spring 2013 topics:

ENGL 380: Spring Term Seminar in Literary Studies: Gravity’s Rainbow (4).
Prerequisite: Completion of FW composition requirement. An in-depth exploration of the preeminent example of literary postmodernism, Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, a critically acclaimed cult classic that combines the plot of a psychedelic spy thriller with the stylistic experimentation of James Joyce. Pynchon’s classic meditation on paranoia has fascinated readers every bit as much as its author’s well-known reclusiveness. Encyclopedic in scope, this story of the closing months of World War II ranges from the sublime to the absurd, exploring rocketry, sexual fetishism, free will, organic chemistry, the beginnings of the 1960s counterculture, and much more. Students examine the novel from a variety of perspectives: biographical, literary, and cultural as well as scientific and economic. Guest speakers shed light on some of the many areas of knowledge the novel explores (behavioral psychology, the Holocaust, the occult, Gödel’s theorem, sadomasochism … ). We also consider related texts by Pynchon and works by several of the figures that influenced him. Students produce analytical and creative multimedia responses, present research to the class, and lead discussion on selected topics. The course includes a day trip to Washington, DC. (HL) Crowley.


ENGL 380. Advanced Seminar: The Western Novel: On the Page and On the Screen (4). Prerequisite: Junior or senior majors, or sophomores with ENGL 299. Students read novels view films about the American West: Wister’s The Virginian, Clark’s The Ox-Bow Incident, Leonard’s Hombre, Portis’s True Grit, Hansen’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Bob Ford, McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, and Parker’s Appaloosa. We begin with American westward expansion and early ”frontier” texts (Cooper, Sedgwick, Crane, Twain, Harte, Grey). Discussion topics include romance and reality, convention and invention/type and character, the allure and labor of the margin, landscape/ inscape/escape, brotherhood of the saddle, hero and antihero, morality and pattern, the American Adam, mythmaking and breaking, ritual and law, justice and expediency. (HL) Smith.

Winter 2013 topic:

ENGL 380: Advanced Seminar: Southern Fiction Then and Now (3). In this seminar, students read multiple works by four leading fiction writers to study changes in the American South and its literary expressions from the Southern Renascence to the present day. The authors are William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Cormac McCarthy, and Lee Smith. Their work allows us to focus on such topics as race, class, gender, family, honor, violence, and history in considering whether the South can or should remain a distinctive region and life experience in the global village and the post-modern world. (HL) Smout.

Fall 2012 topic:

ENGL 380: Advanced Seminar: Subverting Stereotypes: Modern Appalachian Literature (3). The stereotype of the Appalachian dweller–a dirty, lazy, ignorant, moonshining, feuding, but musical and comic fundamentalist–is so inaccurate one wonders how it was contrived, as well as why anyone would believe it. However, the residents of the Appalachian Mountains have long struggled to throw off the images foisted upon them in film and print. In this course we examine the counter-narratives presented by recent fiction writers and poets of the region in their effort to probe beyond the highlanders’ notorious peculiarities and reach the recognizably human mysteries–diversity, humor, spiritual conflict, divided loyalties–which complicate the nature and experiences of the native mountain people. Our reading includes work by the Afrilachian poets, Charles Wright, Ann Pancake, Denise Giardina, David Huddle, Thomas Wolfe, Kathryn Byer and others, and we supplement the reading with films and music. Each student is required to keep a reading journal, make an oral presentation to the class, and write both a short paper and a longer, research-based paper, with an option to substitute creative work for the short paper. (HL) Smith.


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