“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun (1951)
What does it mean for a person, place, or thing to be haunted?
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past. Why is it that we believe that material things, from pieces of Plymouth Rock to parts of the Berlin Wall, can provide us with a link to the historical moments they witnessed?
Why has the idea that places are often marked by the events which have occurred there retained its cultural potency in America since colonial times?
How and why are ghosts often used to symbolize the malicious or benevolent force which the past plays on the present?
Over the last two hundred years, numerous American authors have addressed these questions in their fiction. We will discuss the ways in which two of them, Washington Irving and Toni Morrison, have done so. To assist us, we will also examine how thinkers from other disciplines have explained the connection between the past and the present with regard to the concept of haunting. Our study of these texts and issues will have as their aim the development of the writing skills one needs to possess to succeed at the college level.
This writing course focuses on the creation of complex, analytic, well-supported arguments that matter in academic contexts. Students work closely with their peers and the instructor to develop their written prose. Readings cover a variety of different genres, with a primary focus on literary texts.
Though literature will be our main field of focus, the techniques you will learn will serve you well across the humanities. From thesis construction and the art of close reading to more stylistic concerns, we will cover each of the components which comprise a successful, argumentative, college-level essay.
One of the central means by which you will acquire the skills of analytic writing is peer review and the workshop process. Helping others to improve their writing has proven to be one of the best ways of strengthening one’s own. Through group discussion and one-on-one consultations, you and your classmates will assist one another become better writers and readers.