This course examines how authors of short stories, novels, nonfiction, poetry, and drama from the mid-19th century to the present have described and conceptualized the changing landscape across the United States. Thinking of landscape in terms of place, space, identity, and environment, we will consider the implications of the natural topography—rivers, mountains, vast plains, coastlines, forested lands, urban developments and suburban enclaves. This will give us opportunities to write and analyze how landscape offers freedoms but, at the same time, alters patterns of community, creates hardships, imposes responsibilities, and produces new ideological formations and social tensions. Selected readings will include Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, Zitkala Sa’s Impressions of an Indian Childhood, Susan Glaspell’s Trifles, Abraham Cahan’s “A Sweatshop Romance,” Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, and Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur.
Classes will be discussions (sometimes small-group discussions) with one person introducing the focus of each session through a selected passage from the reading. There will be a number of thesis-driven essays and revisions, in class midterm, and a final exam essay, all within the context of writing-intensive practice and requirements.
Text: NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE, Volume 2: 1865 TO THE PRESENT. Shorter Eighth Edition. 2012.