Course Description |
Requirements | Syllabus
The American frontier has often been written as a space for
adventure and self-definition; in many ways, it can be seen as the
birthplace of American individualism. In this course, we will
take a somewhat more critical view of
"frontier," one that considers different notions of American
space and the place of
the individual in those geographies. We will investigate the
intersections between geography, gender, history, and ethnicity,
reading not only literary texts but also contemporary political
debates about, among other things, the use of land and the
significance of national borders.
Books will be available at House of Our Own Bookstore, 3920
Spruce. Please buy your books here!
The bulkpack will contain articles on issues we will discuss in the course, such as nationalism and immigration, and will also include essays and short literary selections from Cherrie Moraga, Dorothy Allison, Judy Baca, Achy Obejas, Paula Gunn Allen and others.
You are encouraged to suggest short (i.e., not book-length) readings for the course. You may e-mail suggestions to me now, but you will also be given an opportunity to suggest texts throughout the course.
Grades will be based on papers (45%),
class participation (35%),
and a final exam (20%).
You will also be required to write one longer (8-10 pp.) paper, due on the last day of class. You will have your choice of texts and topics, though I do encourage you to run your paper ideas by me.
Attendance is required and counts toward the participation grade. If you are unable to attend class because of illness or emergency, please contact me (by phone, note or e-mail), or send a message via one of your classmates. Please tell me if you will be missing class to observe religious holidays. Hangovers, sniffles, chem midterms, away games, etc. do not constitute excusable absences.
You will be required to make a ten-minute presentation to the class on one of the texts or topics we're discussing; the presentation will serve as a starting point for that day's discussion. A sign-up sheet will be available the first full week of class.
W September 4: Introduction
F 6: The Nation, the Frontier. Readings: Renan, from "What is a nation?" (handout); Turner's Frontier Thesis.
M 9: Westward Ho! Kerouac, On the Road. Bulkpack: Campbell, "Myth and Dream" and "The Hero and the God."
W 11: Kerouac cont.
F 13: Kerouac cont.
M 16: Kerouac cont. Check out Howl, by Allen Ginsberg. Also Amiri Baraka poems (handout Friday, 9/13).
W 18: Bulkpack: Obejas, "Above All, a Family Man."
F 20: Bulkpack: Allison, "A Question of Class."
M 23: North/South. Morrison, Song of Solomon.
W 25: Morrison cont.
F 27: Morrison cont.
M 30: Morrison cont.
W October 2: Inside/Outside. Bulkpack: Foucault, "Panopticism" and "Complete and Austere Institutions."
F 4: Wideman, Brothers and Keepers.
M 7: Wideman cont.
W 9: Wideman cont.
F 11: (Fall Break)
M 14: Fall Break
W 16: The National Body: Gender and Frontier. Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge.
F 18: Williams cont.
M 21: Williams cont.
W 23: Bulkpack: Robinson, "Hearing Silence: Western Myth Reconsidered,." Roush, Rawlins.
F 25: Ecofeminism, the West, etc.
M 28: Joy Harjo, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky.
W 30: Harjo cont.
F November 1: Harjo cont.
M 4: Borderlands. Americo Paredes, With His Pistol in His Hand. Bulkpack: Proposition 187 summary.
W 6: Paredes cont.
F 8: Paredes cont.
M 11: Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/La Frontera. Bulkpack: Allen, "Some Like Indians Endure"; Baca, "Our People Are Internal Exiles."
W 13: Anzaldua cont.
F 15: Anzaldua cont.
M 18: National Allegiances. Maxine Hong Kingston, Woman Warrior.
W 20: Kingston cont.
F 22: Kingston cont.
M 25: Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. Both response papers must be turned in by this date.
W 27: (Thanksgiving)
F 29: Thanksgiving
M December 2: Lorde cont.; Bulkpack: Lorde, "Grenada"; Moraga, "Queer Aztlan."
W 4: Bulkpack: Berlant, "Queer Nationalism."
F 6: Bulkpack articles & Lorde cont.
M 9: Last Day. Papers due; final exam questions available.
F 13: Final exams due no later than 3 pm.
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