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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2010

E 314J • Literature & Education-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34010 MWF
9:00 AM-10:00 AM
RLM 7.116

Course Description

An 1855 reviewer of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass wrote: "[W]e leave this gathering of muck to the laws which, certainly, if they fulfill their intent, must have power to suppress such gross obscenity. As it is entirely destitute of wit, there is no probability that any one would, after this exposure, read it in the hope of finding that." Obviously, this reviewer never imagined that Whitman would become one of our most important and frequently taught American poets, which attests to the drastically different ways that later generations evaluated poetry. This brings up several questions that we will pursue in this course: How have evaluations of literature changed over the past two centuries in American education, and how are these changes manifested in the literary canon? What role does literature play in students’ intellectual, moral, and social development? Why do we read literature as part of a liberal arts education? We will explore these questions by reading works that have been valued for different reasons (or not at all) by critics and teachers over the course of the last two centuries.

In addition to those who want to investigate why and how the literary canon has changed over time, this course should be of interest to students planning to teach literature, and will include an opportunity to make a presentation to the class about a literary work that you would like to teach and your reasons for doing so. Written assignments will include close readings and a researched argument.

Grading Policy

Paper 1.1 (4-6 pg): 5% Paper 1.2 (revision of 1.1): 10% Paper 2: (4-6 pg, optional revision): 20% Paper 3 (4-6 pg): 30% Presentation: 10% Short assignments (3x 1-2 pg): 25%


Possible texts will include: Homer's Odyssey Emerson's "The American Scholar" Whitman’s Song of Myself Selected poems by Longfellow and Whittier Eliot’s The Waste Land Cisneros’s House on Mango Street


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