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Spring 2014 Course Descriptions

English 5061  Special Topics in Literature and Literary Theory: Midwest Vernacular

English 5061 Section 001       CRN 38094
Boswell
Special Topics in Literature and Literary Theory: Midwest Vernacular    1530-1800 T

Historically, American publishers and scholars assumed literature generated in the Northeast was the definitive American literature by default, and fiction generated elsewhere was “regional”: Southern Gothic, for example, or Western. What is “regional literature,” anyway? Should we care about where an author grew up, or where a text was generated? We will explore the concept of regionalism by reading what literary scholars have to say about it, and by reading works by a rather distinguished group of Midwesterners, among them Toni Morrison, Theodore Dreiser, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, Louise Erdrich, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, F. Scott Fiztgerald, Nelson Algren, etc. We will begin with the help of two artists from Wisconsin, both of whom can teach us something about the Midwestern vernacular:  Frank Lloyd Wright and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Requirements: lots of great reading; lively class discussion; two short papers, one final research paper.