ENGLISH 313 - Topics in Literary Studies
Section: 001 The U.S. South, Then and Now
Term: WN 2018
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

While terms like “down South” or “Dixie” imply that the southern United States possess a singular identity—even an identity below, behind or opposed to the rest of the nation—this region is and has long been internally varied, in flux and globally interconnected. While the ante- and post-bellum plantation is its best known and most notorious form of labor-land regime, one which locked people of European and African descent into complex antagonism and intimacy, there were other Souths beyond this one—subsistence mountain communities, displaced indigenous territories, or cosmopolitan cities of mixed French, Spanish, Anglo and Caribbean identity. While today the region is becoming more economically, politically and ethnically diversified, seeing, for example, deliberate in-migration by people of African, Asian and Latino descent, repercussions of the plantation and settler colonialism still linger. How do we begin to comprehend such complexity in the literature of the region? Rather than a lengthy survey, I want us to focus on two episodes in this literary history: the early twentieth and early twenty-first centuries respectively. We’ll read modern authors like Chesnutt, Faulkner, Wright, Hurston, Welty and O’Connor to see how each absorbed the historical legacies of slavery, military defeat, Christian conservatism and Jim Crow while innovating the fiction form. Then we’ll jump forward to the contemporary scene, reading and viewing and listening to artists like Toni Morrison, Ron Rash, Jesmyn Ward, Natasha Trethewey, Kara Walker and Monique Truong. Time permitting, we’ll watch a film or two (maybe Beasts of the Southern Wild, Junebug, or Beyonce’s Lemonade) and listen to the podcast S***town. I take this episodic approach in part because I see these two periods as representing high-water marks in achievement, but also as a means to bring out more stark comparisons between modernist and contemporary experiments with narrative form, understandings of the region within the nation and world, and ways of addressing an always fluctuating multiraciality.

Early 21stc: Morrison, A Mercy; Kara Walker, images; Ron Rash, stories; Ward, Salvage the Bones; S*** Town (podcast); Trethewey, Bellocq’s Ophelia: Poems; Monique Truong, Bitter in the Mouth.

Early 20thc: Chesnutt, Marrow of Tradition; Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury; Wright, Uncle Tom’s Children; Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Welty and O’Connor, selected stories.

Course Requirements:

Numerous short papers and a final exam.

ENGLISH 313 - Topics in Literary Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
002 (DIS)
F 10:00AM - 11:00AM
003 (DIS)
F 12:00PM - 1:00PM
010 (LEC)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
020 (LEC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
F 11:00AM - 1:00PM
F 11:00AM - 1:00PM
Note: Students will be required to attend two library sessions. One on Friday, January 26, 2018, 11a-1p, and the other on Friday, February 9, 2018, 11a-1p.
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9780812981322
Bitter in the mouth : a novel, Author: Monique Truong., Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks Random Hou 2011
ISBN: 9781555973599
Bellocq's Ophelia : poems, Author: by Natasha Trethewey., Publisher: Graywolf Press 2002
ISBN: 9781608196265
Salvage the bones : a novel, Author: Jesmyn Ward., Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperback 2012
ISBN: 0060931418
Their eyes were watching God, Author: Zora Neale Hurston ; with a foreword by Mary Helen Washington and an afterword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Publisher: Perennial Library 1st Perenn 1990
ISBN: 0060587148
Uncle Tom's children, Author: with an introduction by Richard Yarborough, Publisher: HarperPerennial 1st Perenn 2004
ISBN: 9780679732259
As I lay dying : the corrected text, Author: William Faulkner., Publisher: Vintage Books 1st Vintag 1990
ISBN: 9780140186864
The marrow of tradition, Author: Charles W. Chesnutt ; edited and with an introduction by Eric J. Sundquist., Publisher: Penguin Books 1993
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