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

Fall 2005

E 316K • Masterworks of Literature: American (32710-32755) Women's and Gender Studies Emphasis

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
32710 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
WEL 1.308

Course Description

This course will provide an overview of U.S./ American cultural history with a particular emphasis on how literature and other written texts provide testimony to the traumas that are at the heart of the colonization of the Americas and the development of the U.S. as a nation and empire. The course's emphasis on women and gender also means that we will pay particular attention to writing by and about women and will explore how gender has played a role in the construction of the nation. (The course is thus particularly well suited to those who have an interest in Women's and Gender Studies but it is open to all.)

We will use the Heath Anthology, which seeks to provide a revisionist survey of American culture, and which thus includes a larger number of writings by women and people of color. The course will be divided into clusters that explore 1) the colonization of indigenous peoples; 2) slavery, African diaspora and the creation of African American cultures; and 3) the role of migration, urbanization, industrialism in shaping U.S. and American modernities. In addition to reading short pieces from the anthology in order to survey the broad range of American literatures, we will also read some longer works, including Nella Larsen's novel Passing, and a contemporary work of fiction to be chosen. The course will aim to introduce students to the methods of literary study and cultural analysis, especially to make them better readers of the texts that surround them in everyday life. To that end, we will consider the importance of a historical memory of American cultural history for living in the present.

Grading Policy

(Note: Although this is a large lecture course, there will be a significant emphasis on writing and discussion as ways of developing your own critical voice and sharing your ideas with others. We will make extensive use of the Blackboard site to share writing within discussion sections.)

Short papers and on-line assignments 40%
Mid-term and final exams 40%
Attendance, class participation, and quizzes 20%


The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Concise Edition (Houghton-Mifflin 0-618-25663-6)
Nella Larsen, Passing (Penguin)
Contemporary Novel, TBA


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