E 314L • Literary Contests and Contexts
8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Focusing mostly on 20th century American texts, we will read, discuss, and write about literature in three complementary ways: we will consider the text of each work, its literary and historical contexts", and the cultural contests in which it participates. Through this triangulated approach, we will explore many issues that engage students and scholars of literature while also developing several interpretative methods available to us.
When we read under the category of text, we will emphasize the authors use of aesthetic procedure, particularly the organization of the text, the imaginative use of language, and the use of rhetorical (persuasive) strategies.
In exploring each major works relationship to its literary and historical contexts", we will read some short stories and poetry by contemporaries. We will also read some literary criticism and biographical and historical information, including documents from the periods in which the principal works are set. Here we will be looking at how the work in question has been shaped by historically specific events and literary trends. We will also examine the ways in which authors engage and confront readers with history.
Finally, we will investigate each works cultural significance: how it is received by various kinds of readers, how it could or should be valued or devalued in various cultural contests".
I hope that alongside your developing critical skills, we might together cultivate a deep appreciation for how literaturelanguage, self-expression, storytelling, and imaginationconnects us to life: history, culture, each other, and ourselves.
Paper #1 (3-4 pages) 20%
Paper #2 (4-5 pages) 25%
Paper #3 (5-6 pages) 30%
Short writing assignments (4 minimum, 1-2 pages each) 15%
Daily work, attendance, participation 10%
Russell Banks, The Sweet Hereafter
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
Herman Melville, Billy Budd (from the specific collection Melvilles Short Novels)
Tim OBrien, The Things They Carried
Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony
Readings in course packet